Use of a Pressure Ulcer Prevention Virtual Patient to Round Out the Selective/Elective Learning Experience in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

May 20, 2014 9:45 - 11:15am

Manon M Schladen, EdS1, Cynthia G. Pineda, MD2, Camilo Castillo, MD2 
1MedStar Health Research Institute, 2MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital

The selective/elective experience provides an excellent means for rising physicians to explore clinical specialties. These windows on specialty care, however, typically last only a few weeks and the natural fluctuation in patient case availability makes it difficult for educators to provide an immersive experience fully representative of work in the specific domain. Virtual patients (VPs) make it possible to compensate, to some extent, for actual patient case exposure. However the components of virtual case design critical to a satisfying selective/elective learning experience across different modalities remain to be defined. We present the findings of formative research on a pressure ulcer prevention VP designed for 3rd and 4th year medical students exploring the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Sixteen students from five U.S. medical schools, aided by an aggregate of online, evidence-based resources, provided care for a VP with chronic spinal cord injury. Students completed knowledge tests pre-/post-VP and participated in focus groups to relate which aspects of the VP were more or less successful in helping them learn about pressure ulcer risk and prevention. Objective knowledge improved for all students pre- to post-VP. The aspect of the VP most appreciated by students was how it facilitated walking through a day in the life of a PM&R resident. Students felt the VP was least successful in helping them learn how to assess and grade skin breakdown.