Enhancing primary care clerkships with virtual patients.
BACKGROUND A suite of 10 online virtual patients developed using the IVIMEDS 'Riverside' authoring tool has been introduced into our undergraduate general practice clerkship. These cases provide a multimedia-rich experience to students. Their interactive nature promotes the development of clinical reasoning skills such as discriminating key clinical features, integrating information from a variety of sources and forming diagnoses and management plans. AIMS To evaluate the usefulness and usability of a set of online virtual patients in an undergraduate general practice clerkship. METHOD Online questionnaire completed by students after their general practice placement incorporating the System Usability Scale questionnaire. RESULTS There was a 57% response rate. Ninety-five per cent of students agreed that the online package was a useful learning tool and ranked virtual patients third out of six learning modalities. Questions and answers and the use of images and videos were all rated highly by students as useful learning methods. The package was perceived to have a high level of usability among respondents. CONCLUSION Feedback from students suggest that this implementation of virtual patients, set in primary care, is user friendly and rated as a valuable adjunct to their learning. The cost of production of such learning resources demands close attention to design.