Teaching communication skills with technology: Creating a virtual patient for medical students
Virtual patient (VP) is a concept used in the teaching of communication skills, and like physical examinations and other professional skills, must be taught with utmost care. In Turkey, as VPs are yet to be used in medical training, the usual practice when teaching such skills is to use standardised patients (individuals pretending to be patients). The main purpose of this study was to design, develop and evaluate a 3D VP application that can move, has speech-over lip sync, allows written communication and is supported by a strong scenario to improve the communication skills of students. The study was designed and carried out using developmental research methods. The implementation phase involved a pretest posttest quasi-experimental design. The participants in the study consisted of academics specialising in medicine, software experts, an education technology expert, an assessment and evaluation expert, and medical students. The study found that VP applications were accepted by students and were as effective as standardised patients for the teaching of communication skills. The students reported that the VP application developed was very successful in terms of visual and behavioural reality.
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