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MD Program

The Center for Advanced Clinical Learning (CACL)

About ELS

Standardized Patient Certificate Program

The Standardized Patient Program was created to provide experiential learning for USF Health students and performance assessment of their clinical competence. Our SPs are co-creators of an imaginary world that needs to feel, small, sound, and look as real as if it were the world of an actual patient being seen and treated by a practicing physician.

Standardized patient Certificate training provides training for Standardized Patients (SPs) to respond to healthcare learners with consistent, appropriate responses to a wide variety of scenarios. The Certificate consists of 10 courses, each varying in length from 1.5 – 3 hrs. SPs must attend all 10 sessions within a 24 month period in order to qualify for the Certificate.

Once an individual has completed all 10 courses, he or she will be eligible to take the 4 hr. Train the Trainer course. The Train the Trainer course will provide SPs with the tools to teach other SPs as well as assist in other SP training activities.

Subjects (modules) covered in the basic training curriculum are as follows:

  1. Communication (total 10 hours: written = 7 hrs. and oral = 3 hrs.)
  2. Physical Exams (total 8 hours)
  3. Professionalism (1-2 hours)
  4. Case-Based Acting (total 3 hrs.: acting = 2 hrs. and time out-in = 1 hour)


Goal: To provide Standardized Patients with means in which to portray actual patients, to evaluate the student’s performance using predetermined criteria, and to assess and teach doctor-patient relationships. Further feedback is given to the SPs on the proper use of the student assessment tools.

Feedback: written

  • Likert Scale: standardization of grading
  • Comparison/Expectations of skills
  • Group dynamics

Feedback: oral

  • Guidelines
  • Word choice
  • In group setting/individual

Physical Exams

Goal: To orient the standardized patient to the human body by organ system so that they are familiar with the physical examination done by the medical student.

Subjects covered in this module are as follows:

  • HEENT (Head, Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Examination)
  • Cardiac
  • Abdominal
  • Vital signs (body temperature, pulse rate (or heart rate), blood pressure, respiratory rate, etc.)
  • Lungs/thorax
  • Musculo skeletal (Skin, Bones, Muscles, and Nerves Examination)
  • Room equipment(otoscope, ophthalmoscope, stethoscope, tuning fork, etc.)


Goal: To develop familiarity and recognition of characteristics of Professionalism. In 2007 the National Board of Medical Examiners approved a list of 59 assessments of Professionalism for Health Care providers, and it is imperative that first year College of Medicine be introduced to these standards. Thirty-two of the Assessments have been identified as relating to patient care and can be integrated into the Standardized Patient experience.

The Center for Advanced Clinical Learning offers a structured environment for COM students to learn and practice clinical skills on real people – Standardized Patients (SPs). Each student-patient activity, called an “encounter,” has an evaluative piece to it, called a “post-encounter” questionnaire. Students respond to specific didactic questions, targeted towards refining differential and management plans and, at the same time, SPs are ranking students on their professional clinical skills. Each SP Post Encounter contains 12 questions that encompass the professionalism witnessed in the student.

Since it is imperative that future physicians be prepared to integrate Professionalism, we find it incumbent that early in their educational career they be introduced to the tenents.

  • Attitude
  • Response
  • Communication

Case-Based Acting

Goal: To provide Standardized Patients with means in which to portray actual patients, to simulate patients’ findings and psychosocial characteristics. The goal of this module is to teach SPs how to portray emotions and pain, among others, using acting methods.

  • Acting (recording)
  • Time outs/time back in