Simulated patients

Many aspects of the real clinical world can be evoked with the help of simulated patients. Simulated patients, also known as standardised patients, are both professional actors and members of the public who have undertaken specific in-house training to accurately and consistently portray a specific set of symptoms or medical conditions. They are trained to portray a real patient, often so well that a doctor struggles to tell the difference.

Simulated patients fill the patient role during communication and consultation skills training and exams, across both RCSI Undergraduate and Postgraduate health professions education. Real patients can also be involved in teaching, where a real case history is required with the presence of physical findings. A surface model may also be engaged who is a person who participates in teaching to allow a tutor to demonstrate various physical exams.

The engagement of simulated patients is a proven method for helping learners gain skills and confidence in communicating, interviewing, physical examination, counselling and patient management in a low-risk environment. Following their training, simulated patients can give a predefined account of their condition and answer the full spectrum of questions about themselves as a patient from a written patient case. They are commonly engaged to simulate a wide range of scenarios, from routine medical check-ups to complex medical emergencies.

This realistic portrayal of patient history, personality, physical findings and emotions of a ‘real’ patient gives students the valuable opportunity to practice interacting with patients in a safe environment. Simulated patients are trained to provide rich verbal and written feedback on student performance also.

The RCSI simulated patient programme underpins our commitment to be an international leader in supporting healthcare professionals through high-quality education, research and service to enable people to live long and healthy lives. We strive to implement and promote evidence-informed, best practice in our approach which includes adherence to the Association of SP Educators’ Standards of Best Practice. We work closely with our 100-strong simulated patients to ensure that we cater for their training and ongoing professional development needs.

The Patient Lounge is a dedicated space for simulated patients to congregate and is located on the 3rd floor of 26 York Street. This area is ideal for relaxing and rehearsing before and after simulated patient-based sessions and also for meeting up with other simulated patients throughout the day.

We are always interested to hear from people who wish to join our simulated patient programme. It is important that our simulated patient profile matches the increasing diversity of the patient population and Irish society more generally. We highly encourage persons of different age, civil status, disability, family status, gender, membership of the Traveller community, race, religion, sexual orientation and socio-economic backgrounds to apply. 

Whether you want to help the next generation of graduates or to give something back to education we would welcome hearing from you. Please review the programme’s policies and procedures below and if you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch.

Group of RCSI simulated patients

RCSI Simulated Patient Policies and Procedures PDF | 294.1 KB

I think it's a two-way street, I get something out of it and the students seem to enjoy it ... it's a contribution really to their education I suppose.”

Simulated patient