Volunteering in clinical skills teaching

2022-08-SH-Examination Session-students 2

Volunteer and give the gift of time and life experience

Volunteer in our teaching sessions and make a difference that reverberates far beyond the classroom. Our Volunteer Simulated Patient (SP) Program will help you connect with our students in meaningful ways and shape the future of patient care and student training. 

Volunteer Simulated Patient (SP) Program 

The SP Program is an initiative developed by Medicine & Health which helps develop our junior students into leading doctors of the future. Volunteering to be an SP provides our young medical students with:

  • the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life 
  • the ability to develop generic communication skills in a clinical setting
  • opportunities to develop and maintain respectful interactions with patients
  • the chance to build confidence and learn how to maintain an appropriate bedside manner
  • the benefit of receiving and responding to constructive feedback from community members.

Volunteers are needed both for campus and online sessions we hold every course of the Phase 1 program. 

Online SP Program 

The Online Simulated Patient & Assessment (OSPIA) platform provides volunteers the flexibility of assisting from home, at times which suits them. As well as playing the patient, the SP also provides written feedback and assessment after the interview to support student learning. These volunteers are therefore known as SPAs – Simulated Patient Assessors. 

The focus is on generic communication skills, not the students’ clinical understanding, so SPAs are not expected to assess on anything clinical in the appointments. All feedback focuses on how each student develops rapport, gathers information and makes the SPA feel listened to as a ‘patient’.

Registered SPAs are contacted about when appointments are required during a course. A variety of scenario options are provided based on the material the students are studying at the time. 

Some of our SPAs are interstate so there are no boundaries for volunteering online. 

Bumps n Bundles

Once a year, we also have ‘Bumps n’ Bundles’ sessions where pregnant women and mothers with young children can share their experiences with our students. These sessions take place online.  

'Skin Sessions' 

We partner with the Australian College of Make-Up and Special Effects for our 'Skin Sessions'.

Make-up artists apply fake skin lesions to our SPs. The medical students practice general consultation skills, describing the skin problem to the patient in easy-to-understand language. 

Get involved

We provide support to new volunteers on how to play the patient, how to give feedback, and how to assess, if a SPA. Training may take place face-to-face or in online meetings for convenience.

Volunteer simulated patients are part of a community providing authentic experiences for students to learn and practise their skills in a clinical environment.

Join us

There are diverse ways for you to get involved:

  1. Become an on-campus Simulated Patient (SP) volunteer.
  2. Become an online Simulated Patient Assessor (SPA) volunteer.
  3. Our volunteers sometimes choose to attend on campus and be online. The choice is yours.
  4. Some SPs also like to assist with exams which take place at the end of each year at different clinical schools.

The main benefit is that there is no major time commitment: volunteers can dip in and out throughout the year.

Register interest


  • No more than 2 hours.

  • An appointment will take up to 15 minutes. Allow another 15 minutes for the assessment part, so approximately 30 minutes in total.

  • After completing the Expression of Interest form, you will be contacted to discuss the roles we have and if they are a good fit for you.

  • No, these are volunteer roles only. When on campus, refreshments are provided.

  • There is parking available, and the cost is covered by us if you choose to drive.

  • Only weekdays, no weekends. You pick the days which suit you, then a roster is created.

  • No, non-athletes are welcome!

  • No, our SPs are provided with fake information (a scenario) which corresponds with the material students are learning in class. There are different body systems for each course.

  • Sometimes. We will advertise when this is required for certain campus sessions. SPs can opt not to do these sessions, or they may wish to only do these sessions.

  • No, due to the conflict of interest. Please see the EOI form.

  • You must be over 18 years old to participate in the SP program, online or on campus.