We have developed the Patients Involved in the Education of Health Professionals [French acronym PIEPS] training program to promote the involvement of many types of patients in medical education.

There are currently three branches of the PIEPS program:

  1. Simulated patients simulate a person with an illness described in the simulation scenario by acting out the clinical aspect of this illnessand the psychosocial aspect experienced by the patient. They must be able to improvise in order to make the interview more authentic. They are usually involved in clinical and experiential learning courses, whether in medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, etc.

  2. Standardized patients are trained to participate in certification examinations such as the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) that students must pass each year. They simulate a person with an illness, but must act in a standardized manner. They are usually trained by the Ottawa Exam Centre and participate in health professional examinations.

  3. Real patients live with a real health problem. They share their experiences of the illness with students to help sensitize them to the issue and they work in collaboration with faculty. They can also teach strategies for developing clinical skills adapted specifically to the illness.

Benefits of being a PIEPS?

  • Gain a sense of purpose by:

    • contributing to the progress of science

    • contributing to our society

    • participating in the training of future physicians

    • helping students understand the importance of the physician’s empathy for the patient

  • Belong to a community that values:
    • learning by and with others

    • developing the skills needed by future health professionals

    • sharing experiences

    • model-based learning

    • building trust and respect

  • Learn new information about:

    • medicine

    • empathy

What they’re saying

“I have the satisfaction of making a difference, however small, in the training of our future doctors. I feel part of a learning process; it’s a great experience, and so rewarding. I consider the simulated patient role to be very important.” Gladys

“Feedback given by simulated patients on their feelings is essential to medical students’ learning. This experience teaches students how to communicate with patients in an emphatic and realistic way, while giving them confidence in their learning abilities.” Mikaela

“The simulated clinic is really a learning environment…. As a simulated patient, it’s definitely not standardized at all, but each student had the opportunity to have a case with realistic interaction and the fact that each patient is a little different in their interpretation doesn’t matter. The goal was achieved. I see the importance of these sessions for students and I think it’s important to give them as much feedback as possible…. I think the PIEPS sessions you offer are excellent for new simulated patients like me, but also a great reminder for patients with more experience. Sometimes we may have forgotten the importance or the purpose of these sessions.” Elena

This program is an initiative of Francophone Affairs of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine.

To learn more about PIEPS, watch the YouTube video.

To indicate your interest, please complete this document.

Become a PIEPS - Available courses

PIEPS training for all

The training workshops are led by Dr. Isabelle Burnier and her team.

  • These trainings are free of charge
  • A parking pass is provided
  • A certificate of participation is sent after each workshop
  • If you are interested, please fill out the PIEPS training program registration form

PIEPS 101: "Basic Training: The Role of PIEPS, the Medical Education Environment

Upon completion of this workshop, the participant will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of IHPEs
  • Know the context of medical education
  • Differentiate between IHPEs and their roles
  • Have notions of professionalism in an educational context

Duration: 2 hours

PIEPS training for simulated patients

PIEPS 102: Feeling Feedback in the Simulated Clinic

Upon completion of this interactive workshop, the participant will be able to:

  • Define Sentiment Feedback (what)
  • Practice feeling feedback (how)

Duration: 3 hours/Introduction provided prior to the session
Prerequisite: PIEPS 101
Target audience: French-speaking simulated patients working in a simulated clinic or in a simulation context for the learning of healthcare professionals

PIEPS 103: Interpreting the Simulated Patient

At the end of this interactive workshop, the participant will be able to:

  • Facilitate the learning of a scenario 
  • Discover successful mnemonic strategies for learning a scenario
  • Interpret a character in a simulation context

Duration: 3 hours
Prerequisite: PIEPS 101
Target audience: French-speaking simulated patient in a simulated clinic or in a simulation context for the learning of healthcare professionals

PIEPS 203: Character Interpretation for Simulated Clinical Situations

At the end of this interactive workshop, the participant will be able to:

  • Define sensitive medical situations
  • Understand the challenges of interpretation in these situations

Duration: 3 hours
Prerequisites: PIEPS102 - PIEPS103 and to have been selected through a recruitment interview.
Target audience: French-speaking simulated patient intervening in a simulated clinic or in a simulation context for the training of health professionals

PIEPS training for patient partners

PIEPS 301: Communication: From Story to Learning

Upon completion of this workshop, the participant will be able to:

  • Identify what experiential knowledge of illness is
  • Communicate this experiential knowledge according to the audience and student learning objectives
  • Use the principles of reflective practice to guide their intervention

Duration: 3 hours
Prerequisite: be a person living with a chronic illness or a family member of such a person and have been selected following a recruitment interview. PIEPS 101 training is recommended.
Target audience: Francophone patient partners involved in the learning of health professionals

The PIEPS project team

Dr. Isabelle BURNIER holds a doctorate in medicine from the University of Grenoble in France, as well as a master's degree in education with a specialization in teaching health professionals from the University of Ottawa. She is the Director of Clinical Skills and Director of the Pre-Externship Francophone Stream at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine. She has been responsible for simulated clinics for over 10 years.

She has conducted several research projects on the training needs of simulated patients and patient partners. She conducts training workshops for PIEPS, but also for health professional educators who want to develop simulation-based learning with simulated patients.

Anna Foley is the coordinator of the PIEPS training program. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. Since 2014, she has held the position of Clinical Activities Simulated and Standardized Patient Recruitment Coordinator, Ottawa Examination Centre, Faculty of Medicine.

A simulated and standardized patient herself for over 15 years, she understands well the important role simulated and standardized patients play in the education pathway of health professionals.

Contact Us

Anna Foley
PIEPS Education Program Coordinator - Francophone Affairs
Phone: 613-793-7594
Email: [email protected]