About ASPE

ASPE is the international organization for professionals in the field of simulated and standardized patient methodology.

In the early 1960s a neurologist by the name of Howard Barrows discovered that a lay person could be trained to simulate illness and give feedback to medical students about their physical exam and communication skills. He called this person a simulated patient and defined it as “a person who has been carefully coached to simulate an actual patient so accurately that the simulation cannot be detected by a skilled clinician. In performing the simulation, the SP presents the gestalt of the patient being simulated; not just the history, but the body language, the physical findings, and the emotional and personality characteristics as well.”

Gradually, the use of the simulated patient began to grow in medical education. Educators found that simulated patients offered not only a variety of teaching opportunities for students, but also opportunities for testing student performance. Out of this testing environment grew the term “standardized patient” or “SP.” As Gayle Gliva McConvey explains, “An SP is a person trained to portray a patient scenario, or an actual patient using their own history and physical exam findings, for the instruction, assessment, or practice of communication and/or examining skills of a health care provider. In the health and medical sciences, SPs are used to provide a safe and supportive environment conducive for learning or for standardized assessment. SPs can serve as practice models, or participate in sophisticated assessment and feedback of one’s abilities or services. The use of simulated scenarios involving humans is rapidly expanding to meet the needs of many high-risk service fields outside of human health care.”

As simulated/standardized patient methodology grew, educators felt a need to develop and organization that could foster the growth of the profession that was creating and supporting this new methodology. Thus, in 1991, the Association of Standardized Patients was formed. Since that time, our membership has grown along with the concept of standardized patients. Its use has expanded into many fields including dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and allied health professions. SP scenarios often involve simulators or manikins which has fostered an affiliation with the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. Out of SP methodology scholarship has grown an affiliation with MedEd Portal, the source of SP cases that have been vetted and validated by SP educators. We welcome all who are interested in this exciting, ever changing, ever growing field.

ASPE is dedicated to:

  • Professional growth and development of its members
  • Advancement of simulated and standardized patient research and related scholarly activities
  • Setting standards of practice
  • Fostering patient centered care


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