Standardized patients (SP) are a tool utilized regularly in athletic training to promote student confidence and independent thinking. SP are widely used in nursing, physical therapy, and in over 80% of medical education programs.1 The use of SP to supplement student learning and career preparation, in the undergraduate setting has been a validated in increasing student confidence.3 SP’s are a tool that utilize an actor trained to portray a patient who has a specific medical condition or illness and the actor is trained to respond to the students in a consistent manner.1,2 SP’s allow students the opportunity to engage in patient-centered experiences that may include history-taking, physical examination, interpersonal skill development or a combination of all of these elements.2,3 Additionally, students value the use of SP’s to improve clinical confidence and enhanced learning experiences.4 The use of standardized patients in academic programming enhances a student’s clinical experience. 7 From medical education, standardized patients have shown enhancements in students critical thinking, self-efficacy, and communication skills.6 As the requirements to become a credentialed athletic trainer have shifted from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree the time developing confidence in autonomous clinical practice and critical thinking skills have lessened. A sample of masters and bachelor’s students did not show a significance in critical thinking ability of master’s vs. bachelor’s students.8 From this research it was suggested that athletic training pedogeological programming investigate high-impact practices to promote critical thinking.8 The use of standardized patients to assess critical thinking is a high-impact practice that requires further investigation.

With that, the purpose of our study was two-fold. First, we wanted to identify if students critical thinking improved with the implementation of standardized patients. Second, we wanted to determine if students felt prepared to implement critical thinking in a patient or stakeholder encounter.