[Medical students' views on the use of virtual patients for teaching and assessment of clinical knowledge and reasoning]

Arie Oliven, Rachel Nave, Dalia R Hasson-Gilad, Adam Baruch
Harefuah 2013, 152 (5): 257-61, 310

BACKGROUND: Computerized cLinical cases ["virtual patient" (VP)] provide a useful teaching and assessment tool for clinicaL knowledge and skiLLs. However, the attitude of medical students toward this new modality needs to be evaluated. We examined students' acceptance of a web-based VP system that was deveLoped in the Technion Faculty of Medicine for teaching and assessment purposes. The VP system enables free conversation (in writing) for history taking and listing of disease symptoms. It aLso depicts images and audio-videos of heart and lung sounds, and enables users to order Laboratory and imaging tests. The system was designed to be learnt without instructors and to provide feedback online. Therefore, the process of Learning and practicing with the VP system was performed by the students at home, during their free time.

METHODS: At the end of the clinical introductory course to internal medicine, students (n=91) were asked to complete questionnaires and rate multiple aspects of the VP system.

RESULTS: Student acceptance of this web-based modality was high: over 95% fully or partially accepted that the VP practice system facilitates Learning the approach to diseases they were not exposed to during the course, practicing differential diagnosis, and improving their knowledge, clinicaL skills and reasoning. A similar percentage of the students agreed that the VP exam assessed their clinical knowledge and comprehension adequately, correctly and objectively.

CONCLUSIONS: These results document high acceptance of web-based instruction and assessment by medical students. However, many students expect that a clinical course should also include bed-side assessment.

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