Thompson, J, White, S and Chapman, SR (2020) Virtual patients as a tool for training pre-registration pharmacists and increasing their preparedness to practice: A qualitative study. PLoS One, 15 (8). ISSN 1932-6203

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Virtual patients are an active learning pedagogical tool which simulate clinical scenarios in a three-dimensional environment. Their use in pharmacy education is under-researched in comparison to other healthcare professions. In the United Kingdom, pre-registration training refers to a year of workplace based training which pharmacy graduates must complete prior to professional registration as pharmacists. This study aimed to evaluate pre-registration pharmacists’ perceptions on the integration, usefulness and enjoyment of completing virtual patient simulations or non-interactive case studies as part of their training. Pre-registration trainees completed three virtual patient simulations or three non-interactive case studies on the topics of: emergency hormonal contraception, renal function and childhood illnesses. Telephone interviews were conducted with twenty pre-registration pharmacists, exploring their perspectives on the use of the virtual patient or non-interactive case studies. Data was analysed using the five-stage framework approach. Four main themes emerged from the data: case study design; usefulness of the case studies as a training tool; support in pre-registration training; utility of the learning tools. Trainees also identified technical issues they had experienced while completing the virtual patient simulations, specifically with keyword recognition. Pre-registration trainees who used the virtual patients provided comments relating to the novelty, realism and enjoyment in completing them. Trainees in both groups reported developing knowledge and skills from completing the case studies; those who used the virtual patient commented on the development of communication skills and an increase in confidence for practice and those who used the non-interactive cases focused on knowledge acquisition and numeracy. Participants were enthusiastic about virtual patients as a novel training tool which provided an opportunity for learners to practice realistic scenarios in a safe environment. Virtual patients offer the potential to ‘bridge the gap’ in pharmacist pre-registration sector-related training variation, promote learning through reflection on doing and increase overall preparedness for practice.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this article and all relevant information regarding copyrights and more can be found online at;
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2020 10:44
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2020 10:56

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