Yale's standardized patients (SPs) are selected for the program because of their acting ability and their desire to contribute to the education of future physicians. Their ages range from 20 to over 80.
New standardized patients receive training in how to interact with students during simulated health care encounters. They also collaborate with the program director in developing a character and preparing specific clinical scenarios. Although standardized patients improvise when interacting with students, their responses and behaviors are predictable or "standardized." Training continues "on the job" with frequent feedback from faculty and periodic adjustments in scripts.
The actors learn the principles and techniques of the patient-centered model of interviewing. They also learn to modulate their verbal and non-verbal responses to students' behaviors. For example, a student's open-ended question would likely be answered with a narrative, whereas a closed-ended question is more likely to be answered with a fact. Frequent interruptions by a student might result in an SP being silent. Emotional support from a student might heighten trust and result in an SP revealing critical diagnostic data.
An important task for our actors is to help ensure the safety of the learning environment by responding appropriately to a range of students' individual abilities and learning needs.
If you are an actor interested in applying to the SP program, please send your CV and headshot (or current photo) to Dorothy Debernardo, Manager of the TLC.