Teaching with the Virtual Patient Simulator (SimMan)

Teaching with the Virtual Patient Simulator (SimMan)

Clare Guilding, Newcastle University - Download slides here

Much of preclinical medical education is lecture based, learning the basics of science with little clinical application.  I have been developing the use of a virtual patient simulator, SimMan, in preclinical pharmacology lectures. SimMan is an artificial dummy who breathes, has heart beats, bleeds, blinks, responds to drugs appropriately etc. The use of this virtual patient allows students to apply their recently learned knowledge to a simulated, real-life scenario. One of the initial concerns was how to engage the full lecture theatre with the simulation. To enable the entire class to engage in clinical decision making, I employ split-screen technology, combined with interactive voting. One of the screens projects the physiological readouts from SimMan, such as his blood pressure, ECG heart trace and respiratory rate. The other screen is linked to a TurningPoint interactive quiz. At key clinical points throughout the scenario, the students are asked to vote individually on the most appropriate course of action (e.g. which drug and dose to use). The option with the most votes gets applied to SimMan and the students can then observe the physiological effect this has in real time. Initial evaluation of this innovation has been overwhelmingly positive.