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Simulated Patient Assessment Research, and Collaboration (SPARC)

Grant Winners

  • Sarah Valley-Gray, PsyD – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Heidi A. Lane, EdD – College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Ralph Eugene (Gene) Cash, PhD – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Barry Nierenberg, PhD – ABPP
  • Stephanie T. Camejo, MS – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Megan Cannon, MS – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Bianca Basil, MS – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Courtney Cantrell, BS – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Cristina Calderon, BA – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Hilary Cagle, MS – Center for Psychological Studies


  • Karen Grosby, MEd – Center for Psychological Studies


Award Winners

In recent years, accrediting units of the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and other credentialing bodies have increasingly demanded that faculty provide evidence that their students demonstrate competency in the skills they teach. A variety of techniques have been identified to assess student learning outcomes, including live or recorded performance ratings, objective structured clinical examinations, portfolios, record reviews, self-assessment, and simulations/role plays (Kaslow et al., 2009). Medical schools have utilized standardized patients (SPs) since 1963, and at least 80% of medical schools in the United States presently use them for training and evaluation purposes (Clay, Lane, Willis, Peal, Chakravarthi, & Poehlman, 2000). A standardized patient (SP) is an individual trained to portray a set of symptoms consistently across clinical interactions (Barrows, 1993). According to Barrows, using an SP allows faculty to assess their student's clinical skills in a safe environment and eliminates the possibility of harming an actual client. There is a paucity of research regarding the use of SPs in professional psychology. Graduate education in psychology has traditionally utilized roleplay as the primary technique of preparing its trainees for clinical practice. Owing to large student cohorts and the convenience of having a medical school and graduate psychology programs housed on the same campus, the Center for Psychological Studies is in a unique position to evaluate the efficacy of implementing the use of SPs in a clinical training program among psychology trainees. The purpose of the proposed study is to investigate whether role-playing with a standardized patient (SP) results in enhanced skill development when compared with role-playing with peers. The proposed collaborative study between the Center for Psychological Studies and Health Professions Divisions is novel, and has the potential to contribute to the best practices literature in clinical competency assessment among future psychologists.

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