Simulated Patients FAQ

An SP is a person who is trained to realistically portray a patient for students to practise their communication skills and other skills necessary to be a good doctor. In addition to the medical condition, an SP is trained to portray the emotion, personality, underlying concerns and family background of the patient.

SPs were first used in the 1960’s in USA, but since then have been increasingly used in medical education worldwide for teaching and assessment of medical students.
During their education, medical students need to practice with patients and there is no substitute for spending as much time as possible with real patients. However there are many circumstances where using an SP is preferable. Working with SPs can help novice students gain confidence and skills prior to working with real patients. SPs help us train medical students to treat patients holistically and also provide a “safe” setting for students to experience challenging scenarios (e.g. breaking bad news or dealing with angry patients). In addition to gaining experience, SPs provide our students with useful and detailed feedback about their performance to help them learn. In short, the use of SPs helps us prepare our students for the challenges ahead at the right level of difficulty and the right time.
There are three different formats in which we will routinely use SPs in our curriculum:

Consultation scenarios
These sessions will only involve talking with the student so that students can practice their communication, history taking, explanation and negotiation skills. These sessions will not involve any undressing or examination. These sessions will be recorded and students will keep the recordings as part of their training.

Examination scenarios
These sessions will involve the students performing some kind of physical examination on you and may require you to be partially undressed depending on the examination. Our students are trained to treat you with dignity during the examination and you can tell also us which examinations you are comfortable to take part in. Any sessions involving partial undress will usually not be recorded (recordings will only be made with your explicit consent).

Hybrid simulation scenarios
Our students learn practical skills on plastic or synthetic models of body parts. For instance a model arm is used for them to practice taking blood. Hybrid simulation allows students to integrate communication and professional skills with the practical procedures, which feels much more realistic that working with just a plastic arm! In these sessions you work with the model as closely as possible so students can practice their practical skills. To give another example, you may have a synthetic pad strapped to your arm and the student will practice putting stiches in while asking you about how you cut yourself and also explaining how to care for the wound and when to get the stiches removed. These sessions may be recorded for students to keep as part of their training.

We may combine elements of all three of the above.
The sessions may be run as teaching sessions (where the students are being taught the skill they are practising and receive feedback) or as assessment sessions (where the students are taking a practical exam).
There are no specific qualifications required. All SPs will be expected to undergo training to prepare them for the role.

We are looking for people from a range of backgrounds to reflect the patient population of Singapore. We are looking for the following qualities:

1. Excellent communication skills, including fluent written and spoken English. Additional languages/dialects are also of benefit.
2. Many SPs worldwide are professional actors. Whilst we don’t require a formal acting background, you must be able to accurately portray the role we train you for so an aptitude for acting a requirement. When used for student assessment, we will expect you to play the role exactly the same for every student and exactly the same as other SPs playing the same role (standardisation of the role).
3. You will need to have a good memory so you can memorise your symptoms and other information from the role in such a way that you can respond accurately and authentically to student questions in the scenario.
4. When used in teaching sessions, you will be required to give constructive feedback. We will train you for this, but you must be able to develop this skill with training.
5. Excellent organisational skills and access to email. We will communicate with you via email when booking sessions, and sending information. We also need you to be reliable so that we are confident that everyone we have booked for a session will be present on time and fully prepared. If one SP is late, the whole teaching session or assessment will be delayed. You will need to let us know by email (or phone if very short notice) if you are suddenly unable to keep a booking.
6. Professionalism. We train our students to treat information gained from SPs with the same level of confidentiality that they would a real patient. Equally, our students deserve the same level of confidentiality, so we ask that you don’t discuss their performance with others. Also, when we book you for an assessment session, the scenarios we give you are confidential as they are effectively exam questions.
Yes you can. In fact we are working collaboratively with the other medical schools to develop joint recruitment and training for SPs. In London, UK (where NTU’s partner University Imperial College is based) many SPs work for several medical schools. This means, more work (some SPs are working almost full time!), quicker development of skills. This is beneficial to the SPs and also the medical schools involved.
Yes you can. It is important that you let us know about your medical history. For some sessions we can’t use people with a certain medical condition. Other times we may be looking for people with certain conditions or with scars in certain places to make a scenario more real. Please be aware that you will not receive actual medical treatment by working as an SP.
We will store your personal information on a database. This will include everything you tell us on your application form and subsequently your record of SP training and the work you do for us. This database will only be accessible to staff involved in the SP program and LKCMedicine. Information will not be shared without your permission.
We will store your personal information on a database. This will include everything you tell us on your application form and subsequently your record of SP training and the work you do for us. This database will only be accessible to staff involved in the SP program and LKCMedicine. Information will not be shared without your permission.
The application will be reviewed by the academic lead for the SP program. If your application appears suitable, we will invite you for an interview or audition sessions where we can assess your suitability and you can find out some more about the program. We will also be running some training sessions for SPs recruited to the program – these may be group sessions for core skills (e.g. role-play and feedback) or individual sessions for more personalised development.
Most of the work and training sessions will take place at Tan Tock Seng Hospital within specialise simulated consultation rooms. On occasions, sessions may take place at other Healthcare sites in Singapore (including Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) or at a polyclinic) or at Nanyang Technological University.
There are no fixed hours. We will recruit SPs for a particular session as needed and select the appropriate SP depending on the role. Teaching sessions will be 2-3 hours long. Assessment sessions may last all day (with breaks).
You will be paid by the hour for time spent working in for us (teaching or assessment sessions). Our basic rate is $25 per hour, with a minimum payment of 2 hours. The initial interview and any audition sessions are unpaid, but we do pay the hourly rate for some of the training we invite you to (we will let you know whether the training is paid when we invite you to specific sessions). Any time you spend at home preparing for a role is also unpaid.
The academic lead for the SP program is Dr Tanya Tierney who can be reached by email SimulatedPatient@ntu.edu.sg or phone 9759 9068.

Dr Tierney has many years’ experience working with SPs at Imperial College London prior to joining LKCMedicine. She will answer any questions you have and send you an application form.