Training inter-physician communication using the Dynamic Patient Simulator®

Abstract

PURPOSE Clear and adequate communication between physicians is essential in modern medicine. Nevertheless, the medical curricula in The Netherlands lack an identifiable part in their education concerning inter-physician communication training. To train medical students in inter-physician communication skills using the Dynamic Patient Simulator (DPS), the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam and the Leiden University Medical Center joined in a 2-year project sponsored by the Dutch government. DPS is an educational computer program to create and simulate virtual patients with a wide variety of medical conditions in different clinical settings and over different time frames. To evaluate whether DPS is a suitable method for training medical students in inter-physician communication, we assessed if medical students felt that they had improved their inter-collegial communication skills after the pilot with DPS. Besides, we inquired students on DPS' usability and their satisfaction with DPS. METHODS We first developed and implemented 20 patient simulations in DPS to be practiced upon by two students asynchronously during a week. These students were situated in different medical institutions, geographically spread over The Netherlands and had to treat the virtual patient as a team supported by DPS. The students had to report their findings and treatment plan in the electronic referral form of DPS. A total of 134 students participated in the pilot. To evaluate inter-physician communication training using DPS we conducted a survey amongst these students who were entering their internships. The evaluation focused on self-assessment of their communication skills, usability of the DPS program, and their satisfaction with DPS as educational format, using multiple questionnaires. DISCUSSION The outcome of the evaluation showed significant progression in students' feeling of improvement of their skills in different aspects concerning the referral of a patient after participating in the pilot. Besides, students evaluated the usability of DPS positive and were highly satisfied with the education in inter-physician communication training using DPS. Based on these outcomes, nowadays this form of training is incorporated in the curricula on a regular basis.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2007.01.007

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Cite this paper

@article{Sijstermans2007TrainingIC, title={Training inter-physician communication using the Dynamic Patient Simulator®}, author={R. Sijstermans and Monique W. M. Jaspers and P. M. Bloemendaal and E. M. Schoonderwaldt}, journal={International journal of medical informatics}, year={2007}, volume={76 5-6}, pages={336-43} }