by Candice Pye
A standardized patient or client is a carefully selected and trained individual who can simulate characteristics and scenarios to meet teaching, training, or assessment requirements. This is what Lisa Kagan, owner of Shift Space Inc and Simulated Client Services (SCS), says she can provide.
Kagan developed the first standardized patient program at the McGill University Medical Simulation Centre. Since leaving McGill in 2011, Kagan has gone on to incorporate her own company, Shift Space Inc, and SCS. She has worked with all levels of healthcare practitioners developing simulation-based programming in communication and assessment.
Working with various medical departments at McGill and completing a BFA in Theatre Performance are only a few of Kagan’s accomplishments. She brings a unique spin to training individuals as she has an extensive background in the performing arts. Many of the standardized patients and clients who are hired through Kagan are professional actors themselves because of their thorough understanding of performance, story, and conflict resolution, but the database of SCS is also a reflection of the city’s diversity.
“I work a lot with people who are interested in education,” says Kagan. “Retired teachers, nurses, stay-at-home moms who come from either a medical background or a teaching background—really anybody who’s a good communicator, because a lot of what we do involves feedback.”
Kagan’s standardized patients and clients are also diverse in other ways, including age, sex, and race, so she is able to meet all of her clients’ needs. Many look to standardized patients for medical simulations which have been proved to aid in training doctors to perform techniques on, communicate with, and better diagnose illnesses in their patients.
“It’s one thing to read a book and learn about theories or approaches, but it’s experiential,” says Kagan.
While the use of standardized patients for medical simulations is wildly popular and beneficial, Kagan has also moved her services further into the corporate world, working with management teams and HR. She believes that using standardized clients to work through cultural sensitivities, conflict management, or communication within a team is essential to a productive work environment.
“That’s why I want to get it out there a little bit more and let people know that it’s available to them,” says Kagan. “A lot of people don’t know that they can use [standardized patients or clients], or that [they] even exist.”