Clinical Training Facility

Standardized Patient

What are Standardized Patients?

Standardized Patients (or SPs) are living simulators. They are real people who portray patients, family members or other medical personnel in training scenarios. Standardized patients are a vital part of UMKC’s evaluation-based curriculum that helps prepare students for careers in medicine. While UMKC’s students are highly trained in life sciences, their experience with SPs helps them develop the art of communication.

Much like actors, SPs are “cast” according to a scenario’s needs. Some simulations are specific, with scripted dialogue that sometimes is research-driven. Others require improvisational skill and stamina to portray cases repeatedly for multiple students. In addition, UMKC’s SPs provide valuable feedback so students understand how well they communicated with patients.

Standardized patients must be over the age of 18, have strong observation skills and a demonstrated ability to be reliable and professional. A strong interest in medical education and a willingness to learn about various medical disciplines is recommended. UMKC hires many actors, teachers, students and retirees—to list only a few of our talented SPs from varied backgrounds, including teaching, nursing, public safety, sales, management, pastoral and social work. UMKC appreciates diversity and life experience. An acting background can be helpful, but is not required for acceptance to UMKC’s SP Program.

UMKC SPs make $20 per hour for events or training. SPs may work as little as two hours at a time, or as much as 8 hours for large-scale exams. Work hours are irregular and contingent on faculty requests for specific case demographics. As irregular, part-time employees, standardized patients are not eligible for benefits from the University.

SPs at UMKC School of Medicine

Standardized patients have been utilized by medical schools for decades, but SP simulations only recently became required for physicians to practice in the United States. UMKC’s SP program developed after the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) was expanded in 2004 with the Step 2 CS (clinical skills) assessment. While the initial intent of UMKC’s SP program was preparatory for the Step 2 CS, UMKC’s program has evolved and grown into a valuable teaching adjunct for faculty wishing to reinforce communication and clinical skills.

As students transition through UMKC School of Medicine, the curriculum gradually introduces clinical elements of medicine through successive scenarios while reinforcing communication-based lessons in SP encounters. Standardized patient assessments aren’t limited to large-scale events. Many SPs work in smaller-scale encounters, such as interactive, classroom learning environments for all levels of medical students and residents.

UMKC campus and Hospital Hill partnerships

In addition to working with medical students, UMKC’s standardized patients also assist with assessments in other UMKC programs, including for UMKC’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, UMKC’s EMS Education Department, UMKC’s Master of Science in Anesthesia Program, UMKC’s Physician Assistant Program and for UMKC’s School of Dentistry.

At Children’s Mercy Hospital, UMKC’s standardized patients role-play in simulations designed to prepare CMH residents, nurses and staff for uncomfortable interactions (such as breaking bad news to the parent of an ill or injured child).

UMKC’s community partnerships

Standardized patients from UMKC travel throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area to bring their expertise to agencies contracting with UMKC for healthcare education and simulation.

Metropolitan Community College has partnered with UMKC, utilizing SPs for training scenarios at Penn Valley’s Health Sciences Institute, a Midtown Kansas City-based simulation facility geared toward nursing and allied healthcare.

St. Luke’s College of Health Sciences in Kansas City, MO also utilizes UMKC’s standardized patients, with simulation as an integral part of nursing and allied health training at their Westport-based center.

Research College of Nursing in Kansas City, MO also utilizes UMKC’s standardized patients for training simulations at their Research Medical Center-based school.

Joining UMKC Standardized Patient Program

UMKC Standardized Patient Program accepts applications year-round. Candidate interviews are held several times per year, based on projected needs from faculty. To apply for an interview, please download our application. Completed applications may be emailed to the SP Coordinator, at

Courtney McCain, BS, NRP
Coordinator, Standardized Patient Program
UMKC School of Medicine
Clinical Training Facility
2411 Holmes, Kansas City, MO 64108
Office: 816-235-1865
Fax: 816-235-6191>