Riga Stradiņš university (RSU) develops interactive digital simulations (virtual patients) that provide learners with a safe simulated environment for practicing professional decision making in real-life scenarios. The goal of this research is to investigate how students perceive virtual patients (VPs) as a learning tool. Two VPs in the field of Pathology were developed and published to the RSU e-studies environment. Both scenarios featured a branched decision-making tree requiring learners to gather patient information, choose a preliminary diagnosis, gather patient data and establish the final diagnosis. Thirty-two volunteer undergraduate students of the study programme “Medicine” completed the scenarios and filled-in an anonymous post-activity survey evaluating their learning experience. In the result, 31 of the 32 participants completed both scenarios with a success rate of 90.6% on Scenario 1 and 22.6% success rate on Scenario 2.
Students evaluated the activities as a valuable learning experience (30.8% agreed; 67.3% fully agreed). Self-evaluation of preparedness to confirm a diagnosis and exclude differential diagnoses in a real-life patient was high (42.3% agreed and 30.8% fully agreed). Students noted high engagement in gathering the information to characterize the VP’s problem (30.7% agreed; 55.7% fully agreed).
Majority of students evaluated Scenario 1 as being at the appropriate level of difficulty for their level of training (20.7% agreed; 48.3% fully agreed). Scenario 2 was considered as being more difficult (26.1% agreed; 39.1% fully agreed). Students find VPs to be a valuable and engaging learning activity that improves their confidence in facing similar problems in real life situations. Students note that larger exposure to VPs could better prepare them for solving similar problems in future.
Integration of virtual patient scenarios into Pathology course for medical students has potential to improve student engagement, satisfaction and self-evaluation of professional preparedness.
- 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)