Appraising the role of the virtual patient for therapeutics health education

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Baumann-Birkbeck, Lyndsee
Florentina, Fiona
Karatas, Onur
Sun, Jianbe
Tang, Tingna
Thaung, Victor
McFarland, Amelia
Bernaitis, Nijole
Khan, Sohil A
Grant, Gary
Anoopkumar-Dukie, Shailendra
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2017
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Abstract

Background: Face-to-face instruction, paper-based case-studies and clinical placements remain the most commonly used teaching methods for therapeutics curricula. Presenting clinical content in a didactic manner presents challenges in engaging learners and developing their clinical reasoning skills which may be overcome by inclusion of the virtual patient (VP). Currently there is limited literature examining the use of the VP in therapeutics teaching and learning. This review aimed to determine the role of VPs in therapeutics education, specifically the impact on student experiences, performance, and clinical skills. Methods: A search of primary literature was conducted with search terms including virtual patient, education, health, AND learning. Boolean operators were applied to include studies from health relevant fields with article titles and abstracts vetted. Results: Nine of the 21 included studies were control-matched, and all but one compared VPs to traditional teaching. VPs enhanced the learning experience in all 17 studies that measured this outcome. Fourteen studies measured performance and clinical skills and 12 found VPs were beneficial, while two did not. The VP was not superior to traditional teaching in all studies, but the VP appeared beneficial to the student learning experience. Discrepancy was found between the impact of VPs on short- and long-term knowledge. Implications: The VP appears to enhance the student learning experience and has a role in therapeutics education, however a blended-learning (BL) approach may be required to account for individual learning styles. Additional investigation is required to clarify the efficacy of the VP, particularly as a component of BL, on longer-term knowledge retention.

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Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning

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9

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5

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Curriculum and pedagogy

Medicine, nursing and health curriculum and pedagogy

Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences

Engineering practice and education

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