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.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2007.01.007, hdl.handle.net/1765/36803
International Journal of Medical Informatics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Sijstermans, R., Jaspers, M., Bloemendaal, P. M., & Schoonderwaldt, E. (2007). Training inter-physician communication using the Dynamic Patient Simulator®. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 76(5-6), 336–343. doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2007.01.007