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Session Overview
WKS2: Simulated patients and stereotypes – How to deal with diversity in human simulation (Tim Peters, Daniel Bauer, Susanne Borgmann, Linn Hempel)
Wednesday, 31/Aug/2022:
9:00am - 12:00pm

Location: CHUV auditorium Auguste Tissot

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Simulated patients and stereotypes – How to deal with diversity in human simulation

Tim Peters1, Daniel Bauer2, Susanne Borgmann3, Linn Hempel4

1University of Bielefeld, Germany; 2University of Bern, Switzerland; 3University of Göttingen, Germany; 4University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany


Stereotypes reduce and generalize information into (assumed) group characteristics. This simplification leads to behaviours, appearances and traits being attributed to group members, even when not true for the individual person. Medical education, including formats with simulated patients, too often relies on assumed prototypical (“classic”) but really stereotypical case scenarios in formation and assessment of medical competencies. Though based on the noble didactic idea that circumstantial information would distract learners from a targeted learning objective, or likewise, distract examinees from the focus of the assessment task, it still means that different groups of society are inadequately represented in the curriculum. It seems that so far diversity issues receive little attention at an institutional and curricular level throughout medical schools and academic hospitals (Zanting et al. 2020). At the same time, SP-programs are reaching their limits in accommodating diversity in their current constitution.

Nonetheless, the possibilities of better addressing diversity issues at a curricular level are manifold (Dogra et al. 2009), especially when thinking about the design of role scripts as well as the casting and staffing of SPs. Their function in this matter should not be underestimated (Vora et al. 2021, Picketts et al. 2021, Paroz et al. 2016, Miller et al. 2021). Carefully chosen simulations with diversely designed roles and selection of SPs can reflect social diversity and provide access to the topic of diversity among students.


After the workshop, participants will be able to ...

... explain the relevance of diversity for working with SPs in health professions education.

... reflect on their own SP program in terms of diversity with regard to staff, SP-pool and role scripts.

... optimize their work within the SP-program so that they better consider diversity when designing cases and assigning SPs to roles.

... create and revise case scripts that consider aspects of diversity in a non-stereotypical way.

Target Audience

The workshop is intended for all SP-trainers, managers and staff of SP-programs, simulated patients and lecturers working with SPs in teaching or assessment in health professions education. Previous experience with diversity as a topic is not required but SP methodology should be well-known.


In this 3-hour workshop we would like to address the topic of diversity in everyday work with SPs. In particular, SPs representing stereotypical patient roles in teaching and assessments is considered. After a short input, we will together reflect on how to deal with diversity in creating cases and assigning SPs, using concrete SP-scripts as material. At the end, the reflection on developed processes and criteria will be merged into concrete and practical instructions for the creation of case scenarios or revision of already existing simulations. The goal for the participants is to question and reflect on their current working methods with regard to diversity and, at the same time, to take home concrete suggestions in order to represent diversity adequately in the future.

Participants will receive literature and preparatory information in advance that will be revisited later in the workshop. It is also requested to bring two SP scripts from the own institution; one that assumedly takes diversity aspects well into account and one for improvement. Please consider your institution’s regulations for disclosing cases to third parties, especially when bringing assessment material.


Dogra N, Reitmanova S, Carter-Pokras O. Twelve tips for teaching diversity and embedding it in the medical curriculum. Med Teach. 2009; 31:990-993.

Miller JL, Bryant K, Park C. Moving From “Safe” to “Brave” Conversations. Committing to Antiracism in Simulation. Simul Heathc. 2021; 16(4):231-232.

Paroz S, Daele A, Viret F, Vadot S, Bonvin R, Bodenmann P. Cultural competence and simulated patients. Clin Teach. 2016; 13:369-373.

Picketts L, Warren MD, Bohnert C. Diversity and inclusion in simulation: addressing ethical and psychological safety concerns when working with simulated participants. BMJ Simul Technol Enhanc Learn. 2021; 0:1-10. doi:10.1136/bmjstel-2020-00085

Vora S, Dahlen B, Adler M, Kessler DO, Jones VF, Kimble S, Calhoun A. Recommendations and Guidelines for the Use of Simulation to Adress Structural Racism and Implicit Bias. Simul Healthc. 2021; 16(4):275-284.

Zanting A, Meershoek, A, Frambach JM, Krumeich A. The ‘exotic other’ in medical curricula: Rethinking cultural diversity in course manuals. Med Teach. 2020; 42(7): 791-798.

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