Report on an Informal SP Terminology Survey

By Kris Slawinski

In response to frequent discussions at IMSH 2011 & 2012, and a sudden outburst last summer on the SP Trainer listserv on alternate terms for what we know now as SPs, Dena Higbee (U Missouri) , Jennie Struijk (U Washington) and I put together a short informal survey for a quick snapshot of what people were thinking.

We came up with 21 possible terms, both in use and proposed alternatives, and listed them alphabetically as below:

Actor patient
Actor participant
Embedded medical professional (EMP)
Embedded participant (EP)
Embedded person (EP)
Embedded portrayer (EP)
Fake patient
Implanted participant
Simulated medical professional (MSP or SP)
Simulated patient (SP)
Simulated participant (SP)
Simulated person (SP)
Simulated portrayer (SP)
Standardized medical professional (SMP or SP)
Standardized participant (SP)
Standardized patient (SP)
Standardized person (SP)
Standardized portrayer (SP)
Trained patient

We offered the following designations to choose from for each term:  Least preferred/never use; Neutral; Use sometimes; Most preferred/use most often; and, [New] term you’d consider implementing.

Invitations for participation were issued to both the SP Trainer Listserv and to all who had signed the rosters circulated at the SP Affinity Group business meetings at IMSH the previous two years, which resulted in a total of 87 anonymous responses.

Of the list above, the most statistically significant results were as follows:


The results of the survey were presented at the 2013 IMSH SP SIG Business Meeting, which was greeted with some contention by participants, who either felt excluded from participation, or felt that the survey should have been issued by the ASPE BOD. Our perception, as Vice and Co-Chairs of the SSH SP SIG, and possessors of typically inquiring and lively SP educator minds, is that exploration of this subject is public domain, and that the SSH SP SIG does not serve as an extension of ASPE, although it shares the same goals and educational and collaborate objectives.

In response to an invitation from ASPE’s Conference Committee, we presented the results of this survey and provided a forum for discussion of the results, as well as what the next steps are, at the Atlanta venue. Only a small handful of conferees attended, but this allowed for thoughtful, thought-provoking and collaborative brain-storming. As a result, our next steps will be to reduce and reformat the survey content, blast it to all simulation associations, ASPE and the SP Trainer Listserv sometime this fall, and to write up the preliminary results for publication in the SSH Journal.

I encourage all ASPE members who also belong to SSH to join the SP SIG by logging into the SSH Internet site as a member and selecting the SP SIG on the SIG/AG web page. If you plan to present on SP use at IMSH 2014 please let me know so I can arrange for your presentation to be flagged in the conference precise ( . Hoping to see you all in San Francisco in January!

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