Chris Trace, Sarah Baillie, Nick Short
In medical education, virtual patients are now widely used to support and enhance clinical teaching. However, there is still only a limited adoption of similar methods in veterinary education. This paper describes an initiative at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London to develop student-authored cases during clinical rotations that were subsequently adapted for self-directed learning in the undergraduate curriculum as virtual patients. This approach was designed to enhance the quality of the clinical learning experience, assist in the development of clinical reasoning skills, and complement the existing teaching caseload.
The creation of virtual patients involved a two-stage process. In the first stage, students compiled clinical case data and media from patients admitted to the teaching hospitals. They then used these resources to develop electronic cases using a customized Microsoft PowerPoint template that were presented at grand rounds to clinicians and other students. In the second stage, selected cases were further developed with the integration of self-assessment and additional media to create virtual patients for use in teaching.
A survey was used to gather feedback on students' experiences in creating and using electronic cases. It was completed by 163 final-year students (81%) and the results indicated that all respondents had created electronic cases on one or more rotations (mean=4.3 rotations, range=1–9). Overall, the feedback suggested that the students found creating and using these cases useful and that the experience improved their approach to a case.