Integration strategies for using virtual patients in clinical clerkships

Norman Berman, Leslie H. Fall, Sherilyn Smith, David A. Levine, Christopher G. Maloney, Michael Potts, Benjamin Siegel, Lynn Foster-Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To explore students' perceptions of virtual patient use in the clinical clerkship and develop a framework to evaluate effects of different integration strategies on students' satisfaction and perceptions of learning effectiveness with this innovation. METHOD: A prospective, multiinstitutional study was conducted at six schools' pediatric clerkships to assess the impact of integrating Web-based virtual patient cases on students' perceptions of their learning during 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. Integration strategies were designed to meet the needs of each school, and integration was scored for components of virtual patient use and elimination of other teaching methodologies. A student survey was developed, validated, and administered at the end of the clerkship to 611 students. Data were analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling. RESULTS: A total of 545 students (89%) completed the survey. Overall student satisfaction with the virtual patients was high; students reported that they were more effective than traditional methods. The structural model demonstrated that elimination of other teaching methodologies was directly associated with perceived effectiveness of the integration strategies. A higher use score had a significant negative effect on perceived integration, but a positive effect on perceived knowledge and skills gain. Students' positive perceptions of integration directly affected their satisfaction and perception of the effectiveness of their learning. CONCLUSIONS: Integration strategies balancing the use of virtual patients with elimination of some other requirements were significantly associated with students' satisfaction and their perceptions of improved knowledge and skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)942-949
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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