Presented on March 13, 2019

During this webinar we discussed our journey towards diversifying our standardized patient (SP) pool to reflect the patient population that our learners engage with in the Chicago area. We focused on the use of transgender standardized patients (SPs) within our curriculum as an example of this diversification – specifically discussing the roles and cases the transgender actors play, and how they contribute to the communication skills of our learners. We showed how the transgender cases written by faculty provided the impetus for diversifying gender in our SP talent.

  • How did we start? A case written several years ago to address socio-economic factors in a patient’s limited diet and activity choices engaged our team in recruiting and hiring black actresses in larger numbers to work as SPs.
  • Where did we go? A resident level case sparked a conversation around transgender health issues and led to the writing of a new case and to the recruitment of transgender SPs. We incorporated transgender actors within existing cases and curriculum. We shared our discoveries with other NU departments.
  • What’s next? Our goal is to expand these initiatives further into the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum.


Ana Sferruzza, Director of Standardized Patient Programs, Northwestern University

Kerensa Peterson, Standardized Patient Trainer, Northwestern University

Jason Nettum, Standardized Patient Trainer, Northwestern University

Ana, Kerensa and Jason are standardized patient educators interested in providing high quality simulation events to their learners.  They are interested in improving students’ experiences in simulation and ensuring learners see simulated patients who mirror the diversity of patients they will encounter in actual practice.

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