A Virtual Patient for Dental and Doctor of Nursing Practice Students to Apply Interprofessional Collaboration Skills
BACKGROUND: Comprehensive and coordinated approaches are needed to teach students how to address health care needs, cultural sensitivity, and empathy when interprofessional knowledge is of paramount importance for the overall outcome. Simulation experiences are known as effective interprofessional education (IPE) activities, and use of virtual patients (VP) is an emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled approach in IPE. An advantage of VPs is that learners can access them at anytime and anywhere, providing a flexible, yet coordinated learning environment. This poster describes the pilot of a VP for dental and doctoral nursing (DNP) students to apply interprofessional collaboration skills between the two professions. Preliminary learning outcomes and lessons learned are discussed.
METHOD: An interprofessional team (nursing, dental, computer science and IPE individuals) designed a VP seeking urgent care for a missing tooth following a dental trauma. Learning objectives addressed patient interviewing skills, use of empathy, and collaborating with another professional to deliver patient care. Accessing a module delivered through a learning management system (LMS), each learner interacted with the VP to obtain a patient history. In real time, the learners interacted with each other, shared patient history perspectives and developed a joint plan of care. Learners debriefed their experience through a discussion board in the LMS. A content analysis of student written debriefing comments occurred.
RESULTS: There were 70 learners (35 pairs) who completed the activity in Spring 2023. Content analysis of the debriefing comments indicated students: 1) valued the interprofessional collaboration, and 2) learned more about the other profession’s patient care approach. Other findings indicated technical issues present with the VP.
CONCLUSIONS: This VP IPE activity demonstrated the feasibility and value of this learning approach for learners’ application of interprofessional collaborative skills with patients. Learners gained new knowledge of another profession and how collaboration around a specific patient complaint enhances care delivery. The activity provided dental and DNP learners, not commonly paired in IPE, a scenario with practical implications to learn from each other.
IMPLICATIONS: Lessons learned include: 1) the need for close attention to the VP technical aspects; 2) availability of tech support: 3) clear communication with learners about scenario expectations/limitations (i.e., no physical exam); and 4) learners appreciate opportunities to engage in practical patient care scenarios with another profession. This AI-enabled technology indicates students can apply interprofessional collaboration learning for patient care within a time and space flexible environment that prepares them for practice.