Assessing Past, Present, and Future Interactions with Virtual Patients

Publication Title

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations

Publication Date


Document Type





education, virtual patients, gaming




Virtual patients have proven to be an effective educational tool for learning and applying clinical examination skills. Interactive virtual patient scenarios provide opportunities for medical students to practice and improve verbal and nonverbal communication through the use of performance feedback. This feedback helps students to understand the ways in which they are perceived by their patients which otherwise could not be analyzed by health professionals. Evidence supports that interactive VPs fill a niche in medical education and testing for scenarios that cannot be practiced outside the virtual environment or with standardized patients. Not only are virtual atients effective in medical curriculum, as evidenced by various studies, they are applicable in understanding the ways in which learning occurs and can be implemented into a number of educational settings. In this article, the authors summarize seven years of findings on the use of virtual patients. They also describe current efforts at implementing virtual patients in community scenarios. The paper concludes with avenues for future directions with virtual human patients.