HealthJanuary 30, 2023

Global impact study demonstrates virtual patient simulators enhance clinical education outcomes

How can faculty and instructors ensure students take more control of their clinical training and maintain the motivation and interest to develop the clinical judgement, decision-making skills, and confidence required for residency and effective clinical practice?

Today’s students demand interactive, hands-on clinical training tools to give them the preparation they need to succeed. A recent global impact study assessed the perceived value and effectiveness of one such tool, virtual patient simulators (VPS), on a variety of student educational outcomes. VPS allows students at a variety of curricular levels to experience a variety of complex, ambiguous, and true-to-life clinical situations with patients in a fast-paced, safe, lifelike environment.

11 higher education institutions from eight countries participated in the multicentric study to understand the impact of virtual patient simulators on various aspects of clinical teaching and learning — aspects such as evaluation and assessment of performance, clinical reasoning and decision-making, working as part of a clinical team, and curricular integration, among others.

Students and educators across all participating institutions used a VPS from Body Interact, which includes over 600 customizable scenarios across 15 clinical areas and involving a diversity of patient types, as well as performance assessments. “Patients” react to every virtual intervention, which helps students learn to examine and diagnose problems, individually or in teams.

Better medical student decision-making, communication, and exposure

Students from multiple curricular levels interacted with two clinical cases in a didactic approach using the Body Interact VPS in guided group training sessions. Survey data was collected pre-interaction, to establish a baseline, and post-interaction. Over 600 responses were analyzed, and results indicate that students reported that VPS provides:

  • Higher perceived benefit after each Body Interact session — and the highest benefit was reported by students who scored lowest during the baseline, pre-VPS interaction
  • Improved individual learning, based on self-assessments
  • More opportunities to apply knowledge to practical clinical cases, and for involvement in clinical simulations
  • Development of communication techniques and group and conflict management skills
  • Improved personal confidence to function as a future professional
  • Better development and organization of clinical reasoning and decision-making skills
  • Effective learning from clinical decision-making errors.

Educators overwhelmingly recognize the value of VPS tools

Instructors, too, were surveyed, and — in near unanimous agreement — reported on the relevance and usefulness of using technology tools such as the Body Interact VPS for teaching and learning. Specifically:

  • 94% were highly satisfied using Body Interact as a new teaching tool
  • 92% felt Body Interact helped bridge gaps in both the teaching and individual learning processes
  • 92% believed Body Interact helped them identify individual student weaknesses
  • 92% thought Body Interact replicated accurate clinical experiences through simulation.

Examining the results in greater detail, educators indicated the following attributes of VPS as being positive to the teaching and learning process:

  • Promotes clinical reasoning organization, engagement, and commitment among students training for eventual clinical practice
  • Reinforces the in-class learning process
  • Optimizes the discussion of clinical cases
  • Boosts interaction between students and teachers in a classroom environment
  • Improves students’ non-technical skills, such as communication and teamwork

Furthermore, they also reported similar positive results for VPS in online-only teaching and learning environments — specifically in terms of:

  • Providing a simulated clinical experience
  • Supplementing clinical hours
  • Offering a wide variety of clinical cases with varying difficulty levels
  • Exposing students to a diversity of patients and health conditions
  • Ease of online access and flexibility of functionality.

Learn more about how Body Interact virtual patient simulators can positively impact and enhance educational outcomes.

Learn More About Body Interact
Body Interact Virtual Patient Care Simulator
Body Interact offers a hands-on learning experience to practice in fast-paced, ambiguous, complex clinical situations in a safe, lifelike environment.
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