Volunteer Patients

Volunteer patients allow medical students to gain confidence and competence by practicing communication and clinical skills in a realistic setting. Volunteer Patients participate as themselves and represent their authentic medical history, whether healthy or living with an illness or chronic condition.

People of all ages, genders, physical condition and backgrounds can participate. No previous experience is necessary. A Volunteer Patient is a teaching model for a small group of medical students who perform repeated specific physical examinations and ask questions. Many clinical skills sessions require people in generally good health, while other sessions require specific symptoms or conditions.

Clinical skills sessions typically include four medical students and a qualified physician who guides the session. We may ask you to change into a hospital gown to allow students to examine different areas of the body (such as knees, feet, shoulders, upper abdomen, chest). Sensitive areas are excluded from examinations. Some sessions involve interviews and medical histories only, for which you will remain fully clothed.

Depending on the type of session, students may ask questions regarding health history, daily routine, psychosocial aspects of your life or family background. There is no obligation to share. SMP faculty and students are bound by the health professional’s Code of Ethics, therefore any information shared is kept within the strictest of confidence.

Typically, clinical skills sessions last two to three hours and occur on weekday afternoons between the 1:00 – 5:30 pm.

For new Volunteer Patients, we provide an orientation interview and facilities tour. We will ask you to complete health information and consent forms. The process usually takes about an hour.

During the academic year (September to May), we carefully match Volunteer Patients with the learning objectives and course requirements. Volunteer Patients with no physical symptoms can participate more frequently, whereas those with specific conditions may participate once or twice per term. We cater scheduling to your availability and the best suited.

We provide a $20 honorarium to help defray the costs of travel and parking.

Most sessions take place at the Clinical Academic Campus at Kelowna General Hospital. Our office is located on the second floor at 2312 Pandosy Street, Kelowna, BC. Public parking is available in the parkade directly attached to the Clinical Academic Campus (on Rose Avenue). There is no allocated parking for volunteers; however, a $20 honorarium is provided to help defray the costs of transportation and parking.

At times, clinical skills sessions require Volunteer Patients with specific findings or symptoms. If you are living with any of the following conditions and would like to volunteer, please contact us at smp.volunteer@ubc.ca or 250-980-1329.

Cardiology: heart murmurs, enlarged heart, congestive heart failure, congenital heart abnormalities, previous cardiac by-pass, previous heart valve surgery

Dermatology: chronic skin conditions (psoriasis, eczema), vasculitis, ulcers, skin cancer, alopecia, lupus, congenital skin abnormalities, neurofibromatosis (NF)

Gastrointestinal: chronic liver disease (Hepatitis C or cirrhosis), hernia, polycystic disease, jaundice

Neurology: changes in strength, movement, sensation or speech as a result of: stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, A.L.S., head injury, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease

Pediatrics: children with complex medical conditions: congenital heart abnormalities, congenital skin abnormalities

Peripheral Vascular: conditions with any of the following: skin or hair changes in affected limbs, ulcers, discoloration, decreased pulse, poor circulation, previous aneurysm (abdominal aortic or peripheral), carotid stenosis

Pulmonary/Respiratory: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) /Emphysema/ chronic bronchitis, lung fibrosis, pleural effusion, Cystic Fibrosis, asthma, Occupational Lung Disease

No. A Volunteer Patient participates as themselves and does not need to rehearse or audition.  If you do have acting experience, you may also consider the role of Standardized Patient.

Participation as a Volunteer Patient does not substitute for medical care, advice or treatment. You will not receive prescriptions nor participate in invasive or diagnostic procedures.


Any other questions, please contact Patient Programs at smp.patient@ubc.ca or 250.980.1329.

Apply online