Pseudostandardized Patients in Undergraduate Nursing Health Assessment

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Assessment and communication skills are essential components of nursing practice. With the current focus on student-centered learning in nursing education, nurse educators are challenged to incorporate interactive and realistic clinical scenarios into their teaching (Lehr & Kaplan, 2013). New teaching strategies are necessary to assist students in the transition from assessment and communication skills learned in the laboratory setting to the application in the clinical setting (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010). Standardized patients (SPs) are paid professional actors specifically trained to simulate real patients and provide students with realistic experiential learning (Barrows, 1993). SPs are trained to simulate a patient with a specific condition or disease process. In addition, SPs undergo training to assess competencies in history taking, communication, and physical examination skills (Barrows & Abrahamson, 1964; Owens & Gilva-McConvey, 2015). These types of competencies are subject to both formative and summative evaluation from the SP and can complement faculty assessments. In a traditional SP program, the SP provides verbal feedback to the learner immediately following the SP encounter. The incorporation of an SP program is a complex multistep process. This process takes time to interview, hire, train, pilot, and then portray an actual patient with a specific condition (Owens & Gilva-McConvey, 2015). Consequently, SP programs are costly and often reserved for advanced practice nursing education programs and medical and residency programs (Anderson, Holmes, LeFlore, Nelson, & Jenkins, 2010).