MANUSCRIPT: Virtual Patients in continuing medical education and residency training
Virtual patients (VPs) are a one-of-a-kind e-learning resource, fostering clinical reasoning skills through clinical case examples. The combination with face-to-face teaching is important for their successful integration, which is referred to as “blended learning”. So far little is known about the use of VPs in the field of continuing medical education and residency training. The pilot study presented here inquired the application of VPs in the framework of a pediatric residency revision course.
Around 200 participants of a pediatric nephology lecture (‘nephrotic and nephritic syndrome in children’) were offered two VPs as a wrap-up session at the revision course of the German Society for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ) 2009 in Heidelberg, Germany. Using a web-based survey form, different aspects were evaluated concerning the learning experiences with VPs, the combination with the lecture, and the use of VPs for residency training in general.
N=40 evaluable survey forms were returned (approximately 21%). The return rate was impaired by a technical problem with the local Wi-Fi firewall. The participants perceived the work-up of the VPs as a worthwhile learning experience, with proper preparation for diagnosing and treating real patients with similar complaints. Case presentations, interactivity, and locally and timely independent repetitive practices were, in particular, pointed out. On being asked about the use of VPs in general for residency training, there was a distinct demand for more such offers.
VPs may reasonably complement existing learning activities in residency training.