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Standardized Patient Policy and Procedure Handbook

The Standardized Patient Handbook is designed to provide information and navigate steps to support a successful educational activity for our learners. The Healthcare Simulation Center (HCSC) strives for excellence in simulation education, research, scholarship and health services to diverse individuals, communities and populations across the lifespan.

The HCSC will follow the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) Standards of Best Practice (SOBP) and the Healthcare Simulation Standards of Best Practices™. This policy covers all Standardized Patients, Simulated Patients, and Simulated Person (also termed as actor, confederate, embedded participants and role player). The participants include faculty, students, volunteers and temporary casted staff for these roles.

Contact Information

The preferred communication method is via email.

Healthcare Simulation Centers Addresses:

  • 1200 South Jay Street, Aberdeen, SD 57401
  • 1060 Campanile Avenue SWG 255, Brookings, SD 57007
  • 1220 Mount Rushmore Road, Rapid City, SD, 57702
  • 1011 11th Street, Rapid City, SD 57702
  • 2300 North Career Avenue, Suite 260, Sioux Falls, SD, 57107

Table of Contents

Standardized Patient Program

Our charge is to provide a rich simulation environment for education and training healthcare professionals to practice safe, effective, and competent care. Our program has been developed with the best practices of teaching and practices grounded in evidence-based research. Your role as a standardized patient (SP) is critical to our program’s goals to fully prepare, educate, and train healthcare students and providers.


The Healthcare Simulation Center has clear and publicly stated mission and vision statements that specifically address the intent and functions of the program.

  • Mission: The HCSC strives for excellence in simulation education, research, scholarship, and health services to diverse individuals, communities, and populations across the life span. The HCSC improves human health and quality of life for people in the state of South Dakota, the region, the nation, and the world.
  • Vision: The Healthcare Simulation Center (HCSC) will be a national leader in quality simulation education within and/or between various disciplines.
  • Core Values: People-centered, Creativity, Integrity, Diversity, Excellence


The examinations you undergo are instructional and are not to be considered a formal and complete medical evaluation. These exams do not replace those of one's primary care provider.


Confidentiality is of utmost importance to the program. The work done in the HCSC is designed to help participants learn. Cases are copyrighted and developed for the use of the SDSU CON only. Please keep all written scenarios secure and use them only to review before performances. Unauthorized use or sharing of these materials is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, SPs should not discuss their role, case material, or performance. Comments and photos concerning their role must not be placed on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, X, etc. It is also imperative to guard the confidentiality of students, staff, and cases that you participate in. It is prohibited to discuss student performance with anyone except faculty or the simulation staff, or to post student, faculty, or staff photographs on social media.

The SDSU CON is subject to the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This law ensures confidentiality of student information. For this reason, it is important that conversations regarding any interactions you have had with any student are confidential and are not shared on social media or with anyone except faculty or the simulation staff.

The Role of the SP

Your role as a SP is to accurately and consistently portray the medical background, physical condition, and emotional state of the patient. As a SP, you may be interviewed and/or examined by participants.

What you can expect during an encounter:

  • Most encounters are non-invasive.
  • Each encounter, depending on the level of the student, may involve the participant taking a history, performing a physical examination, and providing education and counseling as needed.
  • Physical examinations may be brief to focus on a complaint or encompass a full and complete exam.

During these sessions, participants may be learning communication skills, history-taking, and/or physical assessments. You will be trained to assist in learning and possibly provide feedback regarding their skills. These sessions will involve remaining in character as a patient and possibly assisting in evaluating the learner by completing a checklist. Your body will be exposed as students observe, feel, and listen during physical examinations. Being comfortable with such educationally appropriate exposure is necessary to the encounter. Additional helpful skills for a SP include professionalism, good memory, staying in character, attention to detail, excellent listening and communication skills.

Selecting SPs

Standardized patients are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Past experience/training in a particular case
  • Previous performance
  • Faculty requests
  • Ability to portray realistic needs of the scenario

You will be contacted initially to determine your availability for a simulation. Please respond promptly with your availability. If the assignment has not already been filled, you will be assigned and will receive a confirmation by email or phone. Your confirmation will include the training time (if applicable) and date along with the simulation time and date. If you confirm a simulation assignment, we expect that you will arrive at the scheduled time.

You may not be assigned future simulation roles for reasons including, but not limited to the following:

  • Violating the FERPA regulations and/or breaching confidentiality
  • Missing or being tardy for a training or session without proper notification
  • Repeat failure to meet any performance standards listed below could result in a shortened appointment duration.
  • Inappropriate or unprofessional behavior
    • Interjecting material into a case that is not part of the script
    • Evaluating students in ways other than standard forms
    • Consistently challenging the faculty or simulation staff


Sessions may require training which will provide you with the following information:

  • Schedule for the day
  • Type of activity (history only, history and physical, etc.)
  • SP script
  • Type of participants you will be assisting
  • Case materials, including medical and personal pertinent facts about the patient
  • A clear understanding of the checklists
  • Debriefing, feedback and methods to use

The training process may include:

  • An initial training session to discuss the case and the checklists
  • Case material to review and memorize the patient history and symptoms
  • Additional training of physical exam techniques
  • SP training videos

The Script

It is important to study the script and act out the scenario accurately. The script will provide patient information that should not be offered unless the participant asks. This is a challenging aspect of being an SP. A participant must ask appropriate questions in order to obtain pertinent information. On the other hand, if a participant asks a reasonable question, the SP should not be too sparing with supplying information.

A participant may ask questions for which the answers may not be provided in the script. It is impossible to anticipate every question a participant may ask and we do not want to put a burden on SPs by having to memorize details that are not essential to the case. If a question comes up that is not in the script, it is better to say “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember” than to ad-lib.

The script will provide pertinent history and physical exam findings that the SP is expected to perform appropriately.

If at any time there are questions or concerns regarding the role, direct them to the point of contact. Please do not wait until the day of the session to ask questions.

Performance Standards include

  • Contacting the HCSC as soon as possible if you are unable to attend training or a session
  • Attending all trainings and program sessions to which you have been assigned
  • Preparing thoroughly to portray your role as directed
  • Arriving at the designated site on time and dressed as instructed for the case
  • Remaining in role throughout the session and refraining from social interaction or case discussion during the process
  • Providing honest and objective feedback when asked
  • Keeping all case material secure and using it only to review before sessions
  • Maintaining a professional work ethic with faculty, staff, and students, adapting to change with flexibility, and maintaining a positive attitude

In addition, do not:

  • Discuss materials and student performance with anyone other than faculty
  • Do not place comments, photos, etc. concerning your role on social media

Providing Feedback

Cases may require written and/or verbal feedback. Please answer questions on checklists as accurately and honestly as possible. It is acceptable to write “do not recall” if you cannot remember a specific question. When giving feedback, be specific by providing examples. Limit comments to the patient’s perspective. Use descriptive words about how you felt by explaining what was effective or not effective in the interview. Verbal feedback should only be given when requested by an examiner or faculty member. You are free, however, to address and inform the student if any technique they are performing is painful to you, or if you find that the student’s draping exposes you in an uncomfortable or inappropriate manner.

SP Performance Review

The performance of SPs is reviewed regularly and on an as-needed basis by the HCSC Director. This review is an opportunity to give feedback to the program staff as well. SP knowledge and expertise will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • Upholds a professional and positive attitude in working with faculty, staff, students and peers
  • Written and verbal feedback is accurate and consistent in quality
  • Attendance, including arriving on time
  • Portrayal of the case as trained including expression and details of the case
  • Ability to be flexible and adapt to changes

Session Procedures

Arrive at the designated time for the session with your script and any notes. The SP Site Coordinator can be reached by email or phone (listed above) any time if you are running late and need to give notice. Check in with the simulation faculty upon arrival. They will direct you and ensure that all necessary supplies, props and forms are available.

Unless otherwise directed, the standard dress code for women includes sports bra and loose-fitting clothes and for men, the attire should be underwear and loose-fitting shorts. If applicable, please change into your gown in one of the changing rooms. Wear the provided robe and slippers/shoes when you are outside of the exam room. The HCSC is not responsible for any belongings nor liable for those that are misplaced, damaged, destroyed, or stolen on HCSC premises.

Remain in the simulation room as much as possible while students are present in the center. You should also stay “in character” in public areas, which means that you should not be interacting with any students you see outside of the simulation. Breaks and/or time for lunch may be built into a session. If food is not provided, we will request that you bring a lunch or snack and that you do not leave the building during this time. In most cases, a debriefing of the event will be requested. Please plan to stay a short time after the event for this debriefing. If you have any comments of a sensitive nature, please schedule a time to share this information with the coordinator confidentially.

Exam Room/Student Encounter

The focus of the simulation encounter is the student and how that student relates to the patient as described in the case. Jewelry, make-up and perfume/cologne should be minimal, unless they are called for as props in a case. As a SP, you are supposed to be unfamiliar with your surroundings, so don’t anticipate procedures. You may encounter the same student in more than one scenario, however, expressing familiarity with the student is not acceptable as you are portraying a different patient in each scenario.


Cell phones are allowed; please make sure your phone is in silent mode. No videos, pictures, etc. are allowed within the Healthcare Simulation Center/facility. Please make any necessary phone calls during the break.

Exam tables are to be covered with exam table paper. These are changed when patients change, not when students change. If no paper is present, the table will be cleaned with approved disinfectant between patients.

The exam/hospital room is a temporary “stage” upon which you perform. Respect it and leave it as you found it. All trash (water bottles, etc.) should be placed in the trash before leaving the exam room. Please place gowns and robes in the laundry basket at the end of day.

Alternate SPs

Some sessions may require an alternate. You may be asked to be an alternate. If every SP is present, you may be released for the day. Being an alternate means that you can step into the room and perform if necessary; therefore, you must know the case and be prepared.

Helpful Information

Association of Standardized Patient Educations

Time Sheets and Payroll:

Hours will be submitted to the HCSC Director on a weekly basis. Payroll is monthly on the week of the 21st.

Transportation: SPs must be able to provide their own transportation to and from the College of Nursing sites.

Cancelation Procedure:

In case of severe weather or other unanticipated events, the SDSU CON Healthcare Simulation Center will follow SDSU University policy regarding delays or cancellations.

For non-weather concerns, the SP Site Coordinator or Director will contact all SPs and participants assigned for simulation to cancel the scheduled simulation.


SPs are bound to all SDBOR and University policies.


The University Policy 4:7 (Drug Free Environment) and University Policy 6:6 (Smoking and Tobacco Free Campus) will be expected at all times during HCSC activities.

Disability, Discrimination and Harassment:

SDSU is an equal opportunity, non-discrimination, affirmative action facility. The university policies (4:3, 4:4, and 4:6) will be referred to and followed. Any concerns or reports go to the Tiel IX Coordinator at SDSU.

The essential physical and mental requirements have been outlined above and must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of the position of SP. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the position.

Any concerns with harassment will follow the SDBOR Policies ( 1:17, 1:17:1, and 1:18).

Recording Release:

All SPs will consent using the HCSC SP Consent & Non-Disclosure Agreement before their first simulation activity. The signed Consent Agreement is good for all simulation activities within the contracted academic year. All SP, student, and educational partners simulation records, and video recordings will be kept on a secure cloud system until the student graduates from the CON program and destroyed/deleted within 7 years of program completion. Research data with IRB and signed consent will be destroyed/deleted from the system within 5 years or according to the IRB documents if stated differently.

Parking Information

Aberdeen Site

Located on the NSU Campus in the MeWaldt-Jensen building, MJ 140 is the simulation room on the first floor.

Map of Northern State Universisty showing the location of the MeWaldt-Jensen building.

Brookings Site

The nursing simulation site is located in Wagner Hall on the 3rd floor. You may park in any visitor parking located closest lot is by the Student Union.

Rapid City Site

No designated visitor parking. SPs may park on any street surrounding the building.

Sioux Falls Site

Simulation Center is in the Sullivan Health/Science Center (#2 on the map). SDSU nursing offices are to the right with signs of the main entrance. There is no designated parking area or passes needed.

Southeast Tech Campus highlighting the #2 building Sullivan Health/Science Center at 2300 N Career Ave.