About Standardized Patients/Embedded Actors

What is a Standardized Patient/Embedded Actor?

Standardized Patients (SPs)/Embedded Actors (EAs) are individuals who are specially trained to consistently and accurately represent a diverse population of individuals in a healthcare simulation setting. SPs/EAs express patient feelings related to health concerns, provide detailed personal health histories, verbalize/demonstrate disease specific symptoms, and allow the students to complete a physical assessment. SPs/EAs also portray patient family members, friends, members of the community, or other members of the healthcare team. The use of SPs/EAs in healthcare simulation increases the students’ clinical assessment and interpersonal communication skills which leads to a more patient centric approach to care.

A successful SP/EA must be able to:

  • Memorize a case script and reproduce specific emotional, psychological, behavioral,  and physical symptoms 
  • Accurately and consistently reproduce the case for multiple student groups
  • Undergo focused physical examination performed by students
  • Provide educationally constructive verbal/written feedback to students 
  • Interact professionally with students, faculty/staff, and other SPs/EAs
  • Maintain confidentiality of information related to student performance and simulation case scenarios
  • Be punctual and reliable

Download the SP/EA Brochure Apply to be an SP/EA

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have acting experience?

Acting experience, though not required, is helpful. Memorization of detailed medical/personal histories are a common part of the SP/EA roles.  It is also important for SPs/EAs to be willing to learn new information, take direction from faculty and simulation staff, and provide structured feedback to students.

Do I need healthcare/medical experience?

No. All the information you need will be provided by the Simulation and SP/EA Coordinator. For some simulations, additional information about a particular disease process may be provided for you to review. This is often in the form of reviewing a website and/or watching a video online.

How will I know what to say or do during a simulation?

Depending on the simulation scenario, you will be given a “patient case” or script which will contain any needed health/personal history information, and cues and/or direct statements/answers to questions that will/should be asked by the student. You will also receive instruction related to emotional, psychological or behavioral components for you to portray during the simulation.

What will I wear? Will I be asked to remove my clothing?

Dress requirements will vary depending on the simulation. Some scenarios will allow for “street clothes,” others for more professional attire. For many simulations, you will be asked to wear a hospital gown. You should always wear a bathing suit or a tank top and shorts under the gown. The SP/EA Program Coordinator will provide you with information specific to each simulation prior to scheduling.

What type of physical exams will be done?

Students will perform focused physical exam. These may include: listening to your heart, lungs and/or abdomen with a stethoscope, pressing on your abdomen; touching your face, neck and extremities; using a opthalmoscope/otoscope to look in your eyes, ears, nose and mouth; taking your pulse and blood pressure; checking your muscle strength, reflexes, range of motion and gait. Breast, pelvic, genital or rectal examinations will NOT be performed. Invasive procedures such as blood draws, IV placement, urinary and catheterization will NOT be performed.

Students may also perform “simulated treatments” for certain disease processes during a simulation. These “simulated treatments” will not be invasive in nature. They may include applying an oxygen cannula or mask (not connected to oxygen), instructing the SP to use an incentive spirometer, applying a bandage/splint, transferring a SP/EA from bed to chair, practicing injections using injection pads (not the SP/EA skin) to demonstrate proper technique.

Is my previous health/personal history important?

For some simulations, yes. If hired, you will be asked to complete a health/personal history form if applying for a simulation which requires a specific health/personal history for the SP/EA.

Will I be asked to grade the student?

If requested by faculty, you may be asked to complete a checklist recording your encounter with the student during a simulation. You will also be trained to complete an evaluation tool following each simulation to provide focused, constructive feedback for students and staff.

How are SPs/EAs selected?

The Simulation and SP/EA Coordinator will work with the faculty to select SPs/EAs whose skill set and/or medical/personal history (if applicable) are appropriate for a given simulation. Not every simulation is a good match for every SP/EA. We need a diverse population of SPs/EAs to reflect the patient population our healthcare students care for in the “real” world.

How often would I work?

SPs/EAs are contracted to meet the needs of the specific course. SP/EA Independent Contractors are not guaranteed a specific number of hours.


Jennifer Perez, ADN
Standardized Patient/Embedded Actor Coordinator
Email: jperez18@ju.edu 
Phone: (904) 256-8982

Standardized Patients

Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences

Related Links


Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences

Office location

Jacksonville University
2800 University Blvd N
Jacksonville, FL 32211

Office hours

Mon – Fri, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.