The Society for Simulation in Healthcare > Interest Groups > Standardized Patient SIG

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Louise Clark, MFA, PhD

Lou Clark (Ph.D. Arizona State University, M.F.A. University of New Mexico) is a medical educator with ten years of experience designing and delivering simulated educational experiences for health care trainees and practitioners including medical, nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy, and occupational therapy students in addition to residents, attending faculty, and chaplains. Additionally, she is a researcher who studies issues central to clinical communication including compassion and grief in health related organizations, as well as simulation methodology. Her work is published in Health Communication, The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, and the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education in addition to a forthcoming chapter about SPs and Gynecological Teaching Associates in the new Springer textbook on ObGyn Simulation. She worked as an SP Trainer and Curriculum Development Coordinator at University of New Mexico School of Medicine, SP Coordinator at University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix, a consultant with the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, and is currently the Director of Clinical Simulation and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences with healthcare trainees in the U.S. military, and residents at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Dr. Clark, currently Vice-Chair, also becomes the Chair of the Grants of Research Committee for the Association of Standardized Patient Educators in 2018.

Vice Chair

Tonya Thompson, MA, MD, FCEM, FAAP

Thompson636404942455217455Tonya M. Thompson, MD, MA, received her medical doctorate from UTMB in Galveston, Texas and her Masters in Neurosciences from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed residency and chief residency in combined Internal Medicine/ Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee, Memphis. She went on to complete a fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at that institution, and took a faculty educator position at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) where she is currently a tenured Professor of Pediatrics in Emergency Medicine. Dr. Thompson has served ACH as the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship director for 12 years and the Pediatric Simulation Center director for 7 years. She has been active in simulation education since 2007, and a member of SSH and ASPE since 2008. Dr. Thompson has worked in simulation for the past decade, collaborating with all levels of learners from undergraduate to faculty, as well as multiple disciplines including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, respiratory therapy, chaplains, pre-hospital providers and clergy. She is also responsible for outreach education throughout the state at rural hospitals and with EMS systems focusing on trauma and resuscitation.  Her passion is identifying systems-based issues through IPE and team training simulations. Dr. Thompson has multiple publications in simulation and medical education, has received grant funding for her work, and has presented internationally in the areas of debriefing, hybrid simulation, and process improvement involving human simulation. She has won numerous teaching awards including Educator Emeritus in Pediatrics and outstanding innovative curriculum design. Finally Dr. Thompson has served as a co-chair of the research abstract selection committee for the ASPE national conference since 2008.  She has been as active member of the Grants and Research committee since 2008, serving as vice-chair in 2015 and transitioning to its current chair in 2016.  Dr. Thompson has been a Board of Directors member of ASPE since 2016. She is also the current vice-chair of the Standardized Patient SIG for SSH. Dr. Thompson was very fortunate to have been part of the 2016-2017 Standards of Practice Committee. With the help of many gifted ASPE members past and present, this working group finalized the manuscript The Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) Standards of Best Practice (SOBP), recently published in Advances in Simulation.

Standardized Patient Special Interest Group


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Association of Standardized Patient Educators:
ASPE is the international organization for professionals in the field of simulated and standardized patient methodology. ASPE has a reciprocal arrangement with SSH for discounted annual membership fee with first membership in the other association.


ASPE e-News: Keep up on what’s what in the world of SPs with the newsletter of the Association of Standardized Patient Educators. Read about new trends in technology, educational research, SP educator activities, certification programs, conferences, and more, as collated using MultiBriefs. 

SP Trainer Listserv: Membership in this robust, lively listserv is free and connects you to hundreds of SP Educators around the world. Visit the link above for information on how to subscribe and listserv guidelines.

The annual UIC Certificate Program in Standardized Patient Based Education provides faculty and SP/simulation educators with the knowledge and skills to create compelling educational programs using standardized patients (SPs), alone and in combination with other Simulation modalities. Located in Chicago, Illinois, USA, programs include a one-week intensive program in the fall as well as several 2-day workshops throughout the year.
Training and Using Standardized Patients in Teaching and Assessment, an annual 4.5 day medical education workshop started in the 1990's by Howard Barrows, MD, and designed to teach participants to recruit, train, and supervise the performance of SPs as well as to develop cases and assessment materials for use in both teaching and assessment. Generally scheduled during spring each year, this workshop is held at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois, USA.

The SP Affinity Group became a Special Interest Group in April 2013

The purpose of the SSH’s Standardized Patient SIG is to promote, educate, and support the use of Standardized/Simulated Patients (SPs) in all types of simulation supporting the goals of SSH in healthcare education, assessment and research. 

· State of the Art evidence-based, research-based SP Education methodology published in SSH journal.
· Define standardized/simulated patient/participant terminology, methodology, and best practices, as the experts in the field.
· Advise and educate members of healthcare systems that are interested in standardized patients/simulated patients.
· Provide recommendations for high quality training/simulation.
· Provide expertise and knowledge to support and develop SP programs, hybrid simulation, design and management of simulation events.

Did you know:

· The SP Educational Methodology is over 50 years old, and has been simulation-based from its inception.
· All SP encounters are simulations, but can be either standardized or based on what unfolds in real time. SP use is flexible, and varies from institution to institution.
· Over 3,000 articles have been published on SP-based scholarship and research.
· As our educational methodology develops to include a wider variety of participants in formative and/or summative simulations:
      · The “SP” can be a trained patient, a simulated family member, or any of the variety of participants in simulations referred to as “confederates”: medical technician, nurse, medical student, or physician.
      · SP Educators are deans, physicians, program directors, trainers, and the simulated participants.

Don’t forget that:
Communication skills are not soft skills: we are all involved in simulations that revolve around who said what to whom, how, and when, regarding a patient’s care.  Communication is the foundation for effective patient care, not to mention Patient Safety!

Need help writing, training and testing a case template?
Need tips for screening and training your Simulated Participant, whether it be a MD, nurse, medical technician, or lay person?
Unable to standardize your faculty to be simulated participants in scenarios, or for teaching and assessment?
Need a mentor?

You are not alone!
Join the SP SIG today online and contact us for resources and answers to your questions about preparing and managing your simulations.



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