Standardized Patients

Help shape the next generation of health care professionals

Standardized patients (SPs) play a critical role in the education of future health care professionals. They enable DMU students to gain and improve clinical and professional skills before they interact with “real” patients.

 Standardized patients (SPs) are individuals who are specifically trained to act as patients for the teaching and evaluation of medical students and other professional graduate students. As a standardized patient, you will: 

  • Portray the role of a patient with a specific medical history and physical condition
  • Provide constructive feedback to the student from the patient’s point of view
  • Assess student performances and provide a grade

A standardized patient (SP) is a person trained to act as a patient for the teaching and evaluation of medical students and other professional healthcare students. Standardized patients are used to provide a safe and supporting environment that allows for learning and standardized assessment. As a standardized patient, you will:

  • Portray the role of a patient with a specific medical history and physical condition
  • Provide feedback to the student from the patient’s point of view
  • Assess student performance

Pay Scale: You are paid $18.45 per hour for both trainings and performances. Taxes are deducted before you receive your payment.

Fitness Facility: As an employee of DMU, you are entitled to use the free recreational facility on campus.

Direct Deposit: Available for all SPs. You receive your payment more quickly by using this service, especially around the holidays.

Flexible Work: We give advanced notice of performances and training so that you can schedule other work around us.

  • Scheduling is based on the curricular needs of the medical school and other health profession schools.
  • Audition calls are sent out to all SPs.
  • Interested SPs can sign up for the curricular event and are selected based on the curricular case and need.
  • Some curricular events require a full 8-hour workday while other events may only require a 3 to 4-hour workday.
  • Curricular events are mainly scheduled Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • All curricular events require training prior to the performance.

How often would I work?

It varies based on the curricular needs of the medical school and other health profession schools. We are not able to guarantee a fixed minimum or maximum number of hours of work for standardized patients. We do require all SPs to be available to play a minimum of 4 cases per academic year.

Are physical exams by students invasive?

You will never be asked to undergo a breast, pelvic, rectal, or genital exam. Exams that might be done will be like what you would experience at a clinic or doctor’s office.

Will I need to be undressed?

Some of our cases require SPs to be in hospital gowns and robes. SPs always wear appropriate underwear and socks. Female SPs always wear bras. The students are trained in appropriate draping to protect your modesty while you are being examined. All exams are done on skin so you might be asked to lower or raise your gown briefly.

Will my performance be videotaped?

All performances are videotaped for education purposes and assessment by students and faculty members.

Carlye Marshall, Des Moines University Physician Assistant

“Over nearly two years we have endured an education like no other and you have been a vital part of continuing our medical education during these challenging times. We want to say thank you. We can tell that you truly care about creating fantastic future medical professionals. As we soon partake on clinical rotations, we will always think back on our first patient encounters (you all!!). Thank you again!”

Carlye Marshall, P.A.'22

Contact the Simulation Center staff

The Human Simulation Lab provides a clinical setting for DMU students to apply their professionalism, communication, organization, clinical reasoning and examination. Reach out to get involved in or learn more about research at DMU.

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