Meet Our Team
Denise LaMarra, MS, CHSE
I’ve been in the field of standardized patient education since 2001. Prior to assuming my current role in 2006, I held positions at the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME), participating in the launching of national SP exams for allopathic and osteopathic physicians. I earned my Master’s of Science degree from St. Joseph’s University in Adult Learning and Organizational Development. I’m a member of the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) and the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH). I’ve designed a number of professional-development workshops for SPs and SP educators, focusing on enhancing verbal and written feedback from SPs to medical students and other learners. I’ve presented regionally and nationally on creative, non-traditional uses of SPs beyond the realm of undergraduate medical education.
I have been a part of the Penn Med SP Program since 2009 - first as an SP, then as SP Specialist and now Associate Director. I made my way into the SP industry via my theatrical background; I have been a performer and teaching artist for the past 20 years in Philadelphia. I also have a background in organizational change management. I am inspired by “aha moments” in feedback sessions that our learners experience through SP methodology. I especially enjoy casting our programs and growing our diverse and talented pool of SPs. I am a member of ASPE, SSH and have made presentations to various student groups, faculty, clients and members of the healthcare community. I am also a graduate of Penn’s Step Up and Leading Success programs, through the Office of Organization Effectiveness.
I have been in this position since April 2017 and have worked in the Standardized Patient world in a variety of different capacities over the years, starting as a SP at Penn in 2009, I have been a PA, Trainer and Exam Proctor since then. I’ve also worked as a SP and trainer at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). I am a member of the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) serving on its Social Justice SIG (Special Interest Group), and I am formally trained as an architect with NCARB certification and hold a Certificate in Exercise Nutrition. I found my way to the SP world as a designer and theater artist; specifically creating puppetry for adult audiences to advocate social awareness and change. My work has awarded me nine residencies and two Artistic Fellowships.
Catherine Hagele, MFA
Standardized Patient Trainer
I have happily been part of the Penn Med SP Program since 2010. I’ve been an SP as well as a Program Assistant for multiple programs. I am also a member of ASPE. Originally from Chicago, my background is in theater. I hold an MFA from Brandeis University and have many acting and directing credits from across the country under my belt. I also was associate artistic director of a theater company in Chicago for several years. I am inspired by the difference the SP department makes in the lives of medical students and medical professionals across the health system. I am now a permanent part of the SP staff and am looking forward to many years of growing and learning here at Penn.