Experiencing virtual patients in clinical learning: a phenomenological study
2011 (English)In: Advances in Health Sciences Education, ISSN 1382-4996, E-ISSN 1573-1677, Vol. 16, no 3, 331-345 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Computerised virtual patients (VPs) are increasingly being used in medical education. With more use of this technology, there is a need to increase the knowledge of students experiences with VPs. The aim of the study was to elicit the nature of virtual patients in a clinical setting, taking the students experience as a point of departure. Thirty-one students used VPs as a mandatory part of an early clinical rotation in rheumatology. Using the qualitative approach of phenomenology, we interviewed these students and then analysed data regarding their experiences of VPs as a learning activity. The result shows that students perceived VP activities in relation to actual patients, the clinical context and other learning activities. The VPs represented typical clinical cases which encouraged clinical reasoning and allowed for decision making. The students experienced the activities as integrating biomedical knowledge and clinical experience, providing structure that prepared for the unstructured clinical environment and patient encounters under unstressful conditions. However, the VPs were experienced as lacking the emotional interactivity and complexity of actual patients. Theoretical frameworks of clinical reasoning and experiential learning are suggested as foundations for further educational integration of VPs in the clinical environment. VP activities during clinical rotations provide experiences of clinical reality and allow students to solve problems actively. These features are dependent on VP technology but are also contingent on the surrounding environment.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., 2011. Vol. 16, no 3, 331-345 p.
Clinical reasoning; Clinical workplace learning; Experiential learning; Life-world perspective; Phenomenology; Research interview; Computerised virtual patients
National CategoryEducational Sciences Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-69773DOI: 10.1007/s10459-010-9265-0ISI: 000292925400005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-69773DiVA: diva2:433608