4 Ways to Enhance Medical Education Using Virtual Patients

By Ravish Amin

Medical education is keeping pace with emerging technology.  Here’s four ways using virtual patients enhances what we learn.

1. Applications of Virtual Patients to Medical Education – Medical students begin their studies with an educational goal before they even attend their first lecture. But, because of the volume of information and variation in patient cases during rotations medical students might not practice most common scenarios during rotations often enough for knowledge retention. The disadvantage of static learning (books) is that students lack the interactive simulation of clinical scenarios necessary for effective medical training. Real-world experiences go a long way toward helping students grasp necessary medical concepts. Virtual learning requires students to make decisions and predict outcomes based on virtual scenarios via an effective e-learning software application.

2. Group Sessions with Virtual Patients – To promote clinical reasoning and clinical workplace learning, educators that focus on small group sessions with virtual patients and students along with didactics are able to offer just-in-time learning based on clinical events and decision support technology.

3. Assessment – Procedures in medicine require practice. Virtual patients are ideal for practicing and becoming experts in hands-on procedures such as inserting a chest tube to carotid angiography. Examples of cool web apps and web apps like Google Body – http://bodybrowser.googlelabs.com/ are examples of how e-learning is transforming medial education.

4. Stepwise Retention and Clinical Reasoning – History taking, physical examination, laboratory tests, CXRs, ECGs, and treatment options are simple to retain by practicing on virtual patients because students gain a stepwise method of knowledge application.

What’s your favorite learning technology?



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1 thought on “4 Ways to Enhance Medical Education Using Virtual Patients”

  1. Ravish – I may be a little biased 🙂 but TheraSim’s virtual patient simulator is my favorite learning technology in medical education.


    Our scenarios are completely web-based and do what you describe – get students to make decisions and predict outcomes in a safe environment…. where the real learning takes place. What’s really cool about our technology is Aime, our artificial intelligence mentoring engine which assesses and remediates students on the decisions they make.


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