AHEC Faculty Receives Fellowship to Study Virtual Patient Approach
Peter Koval, PharmD, a clinical assistant professor at the UNC School of Pharmacy, has been selected as a John Payne Fellow. The fellowship comes with a $2,000 stipend for Koval’s project: studying the use of virtual patients in training pharmacy students.
Koval, a clinical pharmacist at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, is the assistant director of pharmacy research, pharmacotherapy, and education at the Greensboro Area Health Education Center. He is planning to use his fellowship to learn how the School of Pharmacy at Keele University in the United Kingdom uses robotic avatars and voice-recognition software to create virtual patients for classroom use.
The Keele University School of Pharmacy has developed a series of case studies that simulate patient visits. In these case studies, the instructor directs some initial inquiries to a 3D animated patient, who responds and describes some of his or her symptoms. Students then gather relevant information by asking the virtual patient a series of open and closed questions in order make a diagnosis.
“This is almost like Shrek for pharmacists,” says Stephen Chapman, head of the Keele University School of Pharmacy. “It’s a three-dimensional image. You can talk to it, and it will talk back to you. You can actually learn better ways to interact with patients, learn good communication skills, learn diagnosis, and learn treatments. It’s very innovative. Students can do it in groups, and it’s something they can also do by themselves over the Internet eventually.”
The $2,000 stipend will support travel and associated expenses. Upon completing the fellowship, Koval will make a presentation at a statewide AHEC conference.
“This is a creative project that has such potential to change how the AHECs and the School do everything from teaching students to synchronous meetings of faculty, staff, and students who are located across the state and around the world,” says Steve Caiola, MS, the chair of the Division of Pharmacy Practice and Experiential Education at the UNC School of Pharmacy.
Click here to learn more about the virtual patient project at the Keele University School of Pharmacy.