University of Pittsburgh

ACIE Award 2010

Teaching Clinical Decision Making Using Virtual Patient Technology

Gary Tabas

Gary Tabas

UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside - 308 SON

Teaching clinical decision making to medical and pharmacy students is crucial, but since it is often taught during direct patient care such as bedside rounds, each student has a limited number of patients to interact with. To address this, Gary Tabas, Medicine, has developed a web-based program that uses virtual patient simulation software (vpSim) to teach effective clinical decision making about diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), an important complication of diabetes.

The program, which has reached about 200 students in the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, simulates real-life clinical situations. Students act as health care professionals, involved in making diagnostic and therapeutic decisions based on the patient’s history and physical examination. Because the software uses a branching system (see image), students can immediately see the outcomes of their decisions and make new choices based on those outcomes. Tabas’ team has also developed instruments to score and track students’ progress in the program, constructed a test to assess students’ decision-making abilities, and developed a post-simulation survey to get students’ feedback on their learning experience with the program.

Virtual Patient PowerPoint

Final Report