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Experiencing a virtual patient to practice patient counselling skills

Lucy Richardson, Charlotte; Chapman, Stephen; White, Simon


Charlotte Lucy Richardson

Stephen Chapman


Introduction Virtual patients (VPs) are a safe and standardised method of simulating clinical environments but few studies have explored health care professional's experiences of learning via a VP. This study explored how users experienced and used a VP that aimed to teach the user to deliver non-vitamin K oral anticoagulant patient education. Methods The study used semi-structured interviews with pharmacists and pre-registration trainees from a wider research study. Interview topics were based on key areas concerning VP use. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim before being analysed using the framework approach to thematic analysis. Ethical approval was granted by Keele University. Results There was variation in the type and nature of use of the VP and in the reported learning, which included reinforcement of knowledge, an opportunity to promote reflection, and acquisition and application of knowledge to clinical, patient-facing interactions. The VP was seen as an adjunct to other education and training. The majority of users indicated that they used the VP more than once. Some users seemed to have gamified their learning with a drive to achieve perfect feedback rather than true engagement with the learning, whereas for others the learning appeared to be deep with a reflective focus. Conclusions The VP offered an educational use as experiential learning, although the users experienced the VP differently; commonly the VP facilitated learning via reinforcement of pre-existing knowledge. The users reported that the VP had value as an adjunct to other education and training resources.


Lucy Richardson, C., Chapman, S., & White, S. (2021). Experiencing a virtual patient to practice patient counselling skills. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 13(12), 1593-1601.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 28, 2021
Publication Date 2021-12
Journal Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Print ISSN 1877-1297
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 12
Pages 1593-1601
Keywords Counselling; Education; Pharmacist; Virtual patient; Simulation
Publisher URL