Standardized Patient, 2017

Standardized Patient is a two-channel video projection commissioned by SFMOMA for it’s New Work series that offers insight into the work of Standardized Patients (“SP’s”)—professional actors who portray patients in a simulated clinical environment as part of medical students’ training. The installation features an angled screen that presents a progression of SP encounters on one side and a synchronized montage of supporting materials on the reverse. Fragments of the patients’ scripts, diagnostic flow charts, and textbook illustrations offer glimpses of the kinds of information that underlie the action. Such an encounter format suggests that these performers inhabit a dual headspace—holding conversations while mentally tracking checklist items to be submitted afterward—an inversion of roles in which the “patients” are now the evaluators. The paradox of the SP exam lies in its artifice: both parties are acting while also being themselves. Yet there is the potential for medical student and actor to connect when both willingly suspend disbelief. The project explores questions of empathy, communication, and performance, and was developed through Tribe’s close collaboration with professional clinicians, communication experts, and Standardized Patients at Stanford University and the University of Southern California.

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