University of Pittsburgh

ACIE Award 2010

Using Virtual Patients to Teach Electrolyte Disorders

Insert Name

Hoda Kaldas

C1106 UPMC Presbyterian

Fluid and electrolyte abnormalities are common problems encountered by medical and pharmacy students. Because of their varying symptoms, these disorders can be difficult to diagnose; they must also often be treated within a critical timeframe. To address these gaps in student learning, Hoda Kaldas, Medicine, and Kristine Schonder, Pharmacy, have created the project Virtual Patients to Teach Electrolyte Disorders: An Innovative Approach to Integrate Physiology and Pathophysiology during the Clinical Rotations. With this, they have developed seven interactive case-based modules to teach electrolyte disorders, using virtual patient simulation software (vpSim). vpSim is an online virtual patient player that simulates clinical encounters where the learner plays the role of a healthcare provider by interacting with an on-screen patient.

This tool provides medical and pharmacy students on clinical rotations the opportunity to practice diagnosis and management of these disorders. Cases are combined with a tutorial that integrates physiology learned in the didactic curriculum with the clinical aspects of the virtual patient, allowing students to apply basic science knowledge to clinical practice. Students work through each module step-by-step, with each step covering a specific objective, followed by a series of multiple-choice questions and immediate feedback. Modules are validated to assess their effectiveness in improving knowledge by comparing pre-test and post-test scores and the feasibility of integrating the scenarios into medical and pharmacy curricula.