Purpose of the Client and SP Program

The purpose of this program is to enhance the learning and education of our health care students. Bringing in clients to our classes gives our students a chance to evaluate and learn from people with actual health conditions. This hands-on experience enhances the knowledge gained in their classrooms and allows the students an opportunity to hone their communication, diagnostic and examination skills.

What is the purpose of having standardized patients?

Standardized patients give our students a simulated experience with realistically portrayed patients. This hones their communication, diagnostic, and examination skills before entering their clinical rotations. Standardized patients are used as both medical models for physical examinations and to portray a medical patient to test our students on their classroom knowledge. Standardized patients are a valuable resource to our program because they provide feedback from the patient point of view to each student after the simulated experience.


“Standardized patients provide a simulated clinical context for first-year physician assistant students to apply their newly acquired skills in a lower stakes, safe environment. The students will be learning important communication, physical examination, and clinical reasoning skills and then given opportunities to assimilate, practice, and demonstrate them in a mock exam room with a community member who has been trained to portray a patient in a medical case.”

Brenda Quincy PhD, MPH, PA-C

Academic Coordinator & Associate Professor, Department of Physician Assistant Studies

“As an alumni of Elon’s theater program, it’s an honor to be able to utilize my degree to further advance the education of new medical professionals. It’s not just about the performance, but the opportunity to give students experience in the importance of empathy and human connection before they even step into the clinic.”

Jess Barbour

Standardized patient

“There’s few things in our education that help better prepare us for real-life situations we’re likely to encounter than getting the chance to interact with those outside our class and faculty.”

Francesco Worley ’14

DPT student

“In 2008, my dad was hospitalized for three months before he passed away. During that time, we dealt with health care providers of all sorts: doctors, nurses, physical therapists, technicians, as well as hospital and administrative staff. We worked with people who were wonderful communicators and people who were not so good. I remember many of the best and the worst of those interactions to this day. Through that experience, I came to understand how powerful good communication with a healthcare professional can be. I now know that effective communication is a learned skill. I’ve been told by doctors that 50 percent of their job is communication. So if it’s that important and such a big part of your job, wouldn’t you want to practice so you can get better, especially if you can practice in a safe environment?”

Dan Sipp

Standardized Patient