AMEE 2009: Effective integration of virtual patients into the medical curricula

AMEE 2009, Malaga, Spain. Here, Dr Sören Huwendiek from the University of Heidelberg in Germany talks to eViP about his Short Communication Session entitled “Curricula integration principles: A focus group study.”

Currently there is a paucity of literature that assesses how to effectively blend virtual patients with other modes of learning in the medical curriculum.

In their pilot study, Dr Huwendiek and colleagues addressed this issue, which yielded some very interesting results.

As Dr Huwendiek explained: “We exposed medical students in their fourth year to eight different curricula integration scenarios, for example first having a lecture then working through a virtual patient afterwards.”

After the scenarios, the students participated in focus group studies, the analysis of which Dr Huwendiek was able to determine 11 principles for integrating virtual patients into the medical curricula, including:

  • Students like virtual patients to be accessible and available whenever they want, for example via a website;
  • Students would rather use a virtual patient after a relevant lecture so they have prior knowledge of the case scenario; and
  • Students would rather use a virtual patient prior to meeting a real patient as they feel better prepared.

“This pilot study will help us design our future studies once we do experimental controlled trials where we compare, for example, different integration modes and see if this has an impact on the learning outcome,” he said.

“We can use out results to focus our attention to things which are most valuable as students experience them.”

Listen to the full interview with Dr Sören Huwendiek here.

Read the PubMed abstract here

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