The use of standardised patients to assess clinical competence: Does practice make perfect?

Barry Stimmel, Devra Cohen, Robert Fallar, Lawrence Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: The use of standardised patients (SPs) is now an integral component of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This new requirement has caused more schools to include SP examinations (SPEs) in their curricula. This study reviews the effect of prior experience with SPs in a medical school curriculum on SPE pass rates. METHODS: This study reviewed the mean scores and pass rates on a 4-station SPE, comparing the performance of 121 US medical school graduates (USMGs) with that of 228 international medical graduates (IMGs). The analysis of USMGs' performance was based upon whether the resident had had previous exposure to an SPE during medical school, while the analysis of IMGs' performance was based upon whether the IMG had taken the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) for certification by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. A distinction was made between those who had received prior exposure at Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Morchand Center, where the cases utilised were identical to those of the SPE, and those who had gained exposure elsewhere. RESULTS: Neither the mean scores of the IMGs and the USMGs nor the percentage who failed was significantly different relative to prior exposure to SPs. CONCLUSION: Prior exposure to SPs does not appear to have a positive effect on subsequent performance on an SPE unless similar or identical cases are used. However, the type and site of prior exposure limited the influence of the review. In view of the increased use of SPEs in medical schools, the content of prior exposure needs to be more fully established.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-449
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • *patient simulation
  • Clinical competence/*standards
  • Education, medical, graduate/*methods
  • Foreign medical graduates
  • Retrospective studies
  • United States


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