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A new dissertation on students’ experience of virtual interprofessional and patient learning in primary care

A new dissertation on students’ experience of virtual interprofessional and patient learning in primary care



Carrie Tran, PhD student in the Department of General Medicine and Primary Care, NVS. Photo: Annika Klems.

The thesis is about students’ experience of interprofessional learning and virtual patients in primary care. The overall goal of the dissertation was to find new ways to enhance professional learning for students in primary care. We investigated what students from four different programs (nursing, occupational therapy, physician program and physical therapist) perceived in terms of conditions for interprofessional learning in primary care (Study 1). We created and evaluated a multidisciplinary virtual patient model for student learning in primary care. The students, who came from four different professions (nurse, occupational therapist, physician, and physical therapist), enjoyed working with the virtual patient when they met physically (Study 2). In the third study, we wanted to see whether an interprofessional virtual patient situation could enhance medical students’ learning about teamwork. We also wanted to investigate medical students’ experience working in groups with virtual patients when they were connected remotely.

What are the main findings?

The results of the studies showed that our pedagogically designed virtual patient model was conducive to interprofessional learning, and students felt they gained an increased understanding of teamwork. We’ve also found that the virtual patient model can be used in physical meetings or for students connecting remotely. Student groups can be either interdisciplinary groups or students from the same profession.

How can this knowledge contribute to improving education in health care?

Our findings show that there are ways through digital learning activities to reduce barriers to students learning from, about, and with other professions and to increase opportunities for interprofessional learning in primary care. Our multidisciplinary virtual patient is currently being implemented as a learning activity in the medical programme.

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what will you do now what do you do now? Will you continue to do research?

I would like to continue working as a district nurse. First I’m going on a long trip and in the meantime I’m thinking about what I want to do clinically. I will continue to conduct research, as a postdoctoral researcher.