Structural Inequities in the Treatment of Standardized Patients and What That Means for Patient Care

By: Temple D. West, MMHPE
Submitted by: Marsha Harman, Rush Center for Clinical Skills and Simulation

Standardized patients (SPs) play a pivotal role in medical education. They are proxies for real patients, preparing students to meet the challenges of excellent patient care. Human simulation, with SPs, is used for teaching and assessing communication and clinical skills in medical education around the world. Standardized patients work individually with other faculty, students, or in conjunction with medical faculty to facilitate learning with feedback. In most simulation centers, SPs receive extensive training in communication and clinical skills, yet they inhabit territory often unrecognized as professional in medical education. The manner in which SPs are seen and treated by faculty and students may be a reflection of how real patients are seen and treated—not always heard, not always respected—and this tension detracts from both simulated and real patient encounters. Exploring how SPs, as proxies for real patients, are treated in medical education is a key to what we might learn and how we might close gaps in cultural respect and, ultimately, in patient care.

Read the full article in the Journal for the Society for Simulation in Healthcare here.

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