A simulated participant (SP) is a person who has been carefully coached to simulate an actual patient interaction so accurately that the simulation cannot be detected by a skilled health care professional.

Simulated participant with students

In performing the simulation, the SP presents a health history; body language; physical findings; and emotional, cultural and personality characteristics.

The experience contributes to the education of learners in multiple health fields and increases the knowledge of medical professionals. Sessions occur periodically throughout the year. Having a flexible schedule is helpful.

If you are dependable, have a good memory, are committed to confidentiality and have the ability to think on your feet, this might be for you! We are looking for men and women ages 18 to 75. A stipend is provided.

Apply Online

Please fill out the application at the end of this page to be considered for a simulated participant. After your application has been submitted, you will be contacted by the simulated participant coordinator. At that time, if we can use people in your demographic, you will be asked to come in for a face-to-face interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a simulated participant?

A: A simulated participant (or SP) is an individual trained to portray a specific patient case or patient scenario in a consistent manner. During an interaction with a student, the SP presents the case history in response to questioning by the student and undergoes physical examinations at the student’s direction. Each SP encounter is designed to assess skills appropriate to a student’s level of training in order to provide a safe and supportive environment conducive for learning or for standardized assessment.

Q: Is being a simulated participant like being a research subject?

A: No. This is very different. Medical research subjects are thought of as people who take experimental drugs or are on certain diets and then have their reactions studied by a team of researchers. We use simulated participants to simulate situations for the students, such as meeting a patient for the first time in a clinic or emergency room, interviewing the patient about his or her chief complaint, and performing a physical examination.

A simulated participant refers to a simulated or real patient that portrays a case in the same manner for every student or examinee. Often more than one person is trained to portray the same patient case in an identical manner. This is especially important in a high-stakes clinical practical examination when all examinees must see the “same” patients.

Q: Why use SPs instead of actual patients?

A: University of Missouri students do work with actual patients in supervised clinical experiences. However, an SP provides a safe and controlled learning environment in preparation for a real patient encounter. A large number of students can consecutively interview an SP, and each time the SP can behave as though it were the first time in the clinic for the same complaint. Thus every student gets the same chance to demonstrate his or her clinical skills in the same situation. It makes it a fair exam or learning experience for everyone.

Q: Is it safe to be a simulated participant?

A: Yes. There is no reason for anyone to do anything that might be harmful. The examinations are very basic and do not cause any physical or bodily harm to the simulated participant. For your safety and comfort, most encounters are digitally recorded in the clinical simulation center, and most interactions are observed by either a faculty member or simulation staff as they happen.

Job Description

A simulated participant is a person who has been coached to accurately and consistently recreate the history, personality, physical findings, and emotional structure and response patterns of an actual patient at a particular point in time.

The University of Missouri employs simulated participants in the training and evaluation of health care professionals, including medical and nursing learners. Simulated participants are interviewed and examined by male and female health care learners. Patients may be audio or videotaped during simulation.

Important attributes of a simulated participant include:

  • Reliability and punctuality
  • Commitment to the education of health professionals
  • Lack of bias toward the health care system
  • Ability to work with others in a respectful manner
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills

Minimum qualifications:

  • Demonstrate ability and willingness to work cooperatively with learners, faculty and administrators
  • Demonstrate ability to be instructed by an SP educator
  • Consistently simulate a case scenario in a standardized, accurate and reliable manner
  • Demonstrate flexibility and reliability with scheduling and assignments
  • Be of legal status to work in the United States

Simulated Participant Application