Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Simulated patients at RCSI

What is a simulated patient?

Simulated patients are individuals who are trained to simulate the signs and symptoms of an actual patient which allows a student doctor, nurse or healthcare worker to practice their communication and consultation skills and in some cases physical examination skills.

Simulated patients are also trained to provide feedback to the students, especially in the area of interpersonal communication.

Simulated patients act as a key stepping stone between the classroom and the clinic. They allow students practice in a safe environment before they meet 'real' patients in the clinic.

Who can apply to be a simulated patient?

People of any age can apply so long as they have some free time, are interested in playing a patient role, and are comfortable giving feedback to students. You do not need any prior training to become a simulated patient, full training will be provided.

What characteristics make an effective simulated patient?

  • Excellent communication skills
  • An interest in education and health
  • Flexibility
  • Commitment/reliability
  • Patience/empathy

What do we expect from simulated patients?

An enthusiastic attitude and reliable nature as well as an interest in helping with the education of future healthcare professionals is beneficial.

What training is involved?

Initial training involves a number of half-day training sessions and is arranged as is required depending on teaching demands. During the initial training you will have the chance to see what it is like to be a simulated patient and have a go yourself. You will also be given training in specific patient cases.

What does the training cover?

Topics covered during the training include:

  • An introduction to simulated patient methodology
  • Developing simulated patient skills
  • RCSI simulated patient cases
  • An introduction to medical history taking, medical communication and consultation skills
  • How to give feedback to students

How are the sessions the students run?

The format of teaching session varies depending on the teaching objectives. Most sessions take the format of a doctor-patient consultation where you will speak to the doctor/healthcare worker one on one. In some sessions you speak to one student for the full consultation and in others the students rotate and each cover part of the consultation process. In some sessions students give each other feedback and in other sessions a tutor supervises and directs the consultation and feedback process.

Although many students are nervous before their first consultation, most students find it a very beneficial form of learning.

Are simulated patients paid for their participation?

Simulated patients receive a stipend for each day they are asked to attend as a simulated patient.

Where do the training and teaching sessions take place?

Sessions may be located at the main RCSI campus at 123 St Stephen's Green or at the RCSI Beaumont Hospital Campus.

How do I become a simulated patient?

If you would like to talk to someone about how to become a simulated patient or if you have any questions please get in touch. Alternately, please complete the application form and send it to, and we will contact you when the next training is scheduled.

Clare Sullivan
01 402 2142