Jim Malloy (SP) and Ryan Jones (Class of 2014)

The Clinical Skills Center is an educational and assessment resource designed to support the learning objectives of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Based in the Clinical Performance Education Center, the Clinical Skills Center recruits and trains simulated patients (SPs) for instructional and assessment exercises. We are dedicated to providing quality instructional and assessment programs to medical students, residents and other health care professionals.

Simulated patient methodology has been established as a valid, reliable and practical method of teaching and evaluating medical students. A properly trained standardized or simulated patient can serve as a patient, teacher and evaluator, allowing our future health care providers the opportunity to practice and receive feedback on specific skills related to patient interviewing, physical examinations and issues of professionalism. Our ultimate goal is to prepare learner participants to be competent and compassionate physicians that provide quality, state-of-the-art patient care.

Simulated patients are individuals who are carefully screened and trained to simulate the signs and symptoms of an actual patient. The cases they portray are based on actual patient encounters experienced by physicians. Simulated patients are also trained to provide feedback to the learners, especially in the area of interpersonal communication.

The use of simulated patients allows medical students and faculty to experience:

  • Hands-on teaching, patient interaction, examination practice and assessment of their clinical, professional and communication skills in an authentic examination scenario
  • Immediate feedback
  • Patient-centered interviewing techniques
  • Patient diversity and cultural differences
  • Multiple diseases
  • Visual monitoring through video taping and/or web streaming technology


Since our inception in 1994, learner participation has increased to 4300 hours of formative and summative activities in both undergraduate and graduate medical education. We have 80 simulated patients (SPs) currently registered, offering us a variety of skills, languages and cultural diversities. Presently, there are 140 cases on file for faculty and program use.

Besides our professional staff, the program has an Advisory Committee comprised of faculty and curriculum specialists who are also case reviewers and serve as program development advisors.