4 W's of SPI


Why are Standardized Patient Instructors used in the Medical School?
SPI exercises are used throughout the student's four years of medical school and begin as early as two weeks into the student's first year. At this point, the students have not acquired the necessary skills and medical knowledge to interact with actual patients. Through the use of SPIs, actual patient care is never in jeopardy. Standardized Patient Instructors give each student a standardized experience and therefore,the variability of interacting with "real patients" is removed. The utilization of SPIs give faculty a reliable measurement of the student's performance during patient interactions throughout the course of medical school.

When is a Standardized Patients Instructor best utilized?
SPI's are most effective when used to measure the following:

  • History-taking and interviewing skills
  • Physical examination skills
  • Communication skills
  • Patient education skills
  • Interpersonal skills

What happens in a typical SPI exercise?
The student begins the exercise by interviewing the SPI for 15-30 minutes. Then the SPI "breaks role" and both the student and the SPI complete evaluation forms. Once the evaluations have been completed, the SPI provides the student with immediate verbal feedback based on their performance.

W ho are our Standardized Patients Instructors?
Our SPIs come from all walks of life and are between 14-80 years of age. Many have backgrounds in education, social work, or some medical profession, but all must possess excellent communication skills. A flexible schedule, transportation, and punctuality are also necessary. While SPIs are paid for training and working with students, most SPIs find that their motivation to become part of the Standardized Patient Program comes from a desire to assist in the training of excellent physicans.