Designing Online Resources to Support Virtual Patients: Preferences of Millennial Women in Physician and Physician Assistant Training Programs

May 17, 2016 9:45 AM – 11:15 AM

Manon Maitland Schladen1, PhD, Martha M Snyder2, PhD, Alexander V Libin1, PhD, Steven R Terrell2, PhD
1Washington DC VA Medical Center, 2Nova Southeastern University

Formative research, a type of case study research, was conducted to inform the design of learning resources to support virtual patients, online interactive patient cases. Goal-Based Scenarios, an instructional design theory grounded in Case-Based Reasoning, provided the baseline evaluation criteria for examining what worked and didn’t work to enhance the learning experience for medical trainees engaged in providing care to a multimedia, narrative, virtual patient over the period of a two-day in-patient stay. Study participants were millennial (born after 1982) women (N=10) currently training to become physicians or physician assistants. Participants strongly endorsed the use of video as a resource for learning because of its power to provide imminence and truth value in patient scenarios. At the same time, participants also valued text-based narrative for its brevity and efficiency. The desirability of having an accurate-to-the-moment patient medical record available for easy reference as a resource to support decision-making in the course of virtual patient scenarios was a theme that emerged universally across all participants. Searching the Internet for just-in-time medical information was preferred to scanning specifically provided evidence-based documents. This preference reflects a general trend identified in the literature on information retrieval practices commonly employed by both trainees and more advanced practitioners in contemporary clinical settings.