Making WAVES: the progress of collaborations to further the use of Virtual Patients

May 17, 2016 9:45 AM – 11:15 AM

Terry Poulton, PhD, Luke Woodham, MSc, Sheetal Kavia, BSc, Trupti Jivram, BSc
St George's, University of London

Virtual Patients (VPs) have become well established in medical education and beyond, but continue to be developed and explored. Key challenges remain; the effective use of VPs can be a daunting prospect for educators who wish to harness them for maximum educational benefit, and to obtain evidence to support and measure their impact.

 St George’s, University of London have developed their Problem-based Learning (PBL) curriculum within the undergraduate Medicine course and introduced decision-PBL (D-PBL), a variant form that replaces linear PBL cases with VPs that provided learners with a series of patient management pathways. This approach showed a positive educational effect, learners demonstrating improved performance in areas related to D-PBL, and has proved a launchpad for a number of further projects.

A series of EC-funded projects have applied this approach to curriculum transformation across a range of settings, in institutions and cultures across Europe and for learners both before and during the clinical years of training. This series of collaborations has culminated in a wide network of academic and commercial partners supporting initiatives to further the use of VPs, and to build an evidence base supporting their uptake.

The WAVES (Widening Access to Virtual Educational Scenarios) network, seeks to encourage the use of VPs, and provide tools and technological developments to make the resources more accessible to educators and learners alike.