Background and purpose The complexity and breadth of the medical curriculum presents many educational challenges. New technologies and advances in learning enhancement strategies propose a potential shift in the educational paradigm. The integration of virtual patients into the medical curriculum allows for interactive learning; shifting the focus from a passive educator-centred model to an active and individually tailored learning approach.
This study builds on the successful Microbiology application. In collaboration with the original Microbiology designers, ‘Student Surgery’ is an application currently in development at Nottingham University Hospitals for medical students on their surgical attachment. It aims to assist in the delivery of core learning objectives, and augment traditional learning strategies during clinical placements.
Methodology Six interactive linear cases (Acute Appendicitis, Hyperthyroidism, Inguinal Hernia, Breast cancer, Acute Cholecystitis and Dysphagia cases) were constructed, simulating realistic clinical scenarios that addressed core surgical learning objectives. The content was created by two medical students and reviewed by a surgical teaching fellow. The cases were transcribed into a smartphone/tablet application. A pilot app survey and student focus group will be formed upon completion.
Results This innovative application enables users to experience a virtual patient case scenario by assuming the role of a health care professional. Users obtain histories, consider potential diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Results from the survey and student focus group feedback will assist in targeted improvements and further development of the application.
Discussion and conclusions The integration of e-learning into medical education presents an exciting opportunity to develop new and innovative learning resources. User evaluation and constructive feedback will allow for future development of the application. The early results of this study suggest virtual patients are likely to play an increasing role in medical education. The integration of educational applications into the medical curriculum is an exciting development in the teaching resources currently offered to medical students.
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- Category: Course or curriculum evaluation/innovation/integration
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