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Nurse Educ Today. 2012 Aug;32(6):683-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Development, implementation and initial evaluation of narrative virtual patients for use in vocational mental health nurse training.

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Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, St George's University of London & Kingston University, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK.


Simulation techniques such as virtual patients (VPs) are valuable tools for teaching and learning a range of clinical proficiencies. Compared with other forms of simulation, however, the reported use of VPs within nursing is limited. Descriptions of simple, low cost methods for the development of VP devices could help facilitate their wider implementation and use in nursing education and training. In order to encourage broader use of VP technologies within nursing, this paper aims to expand current knowledge of VP creation by reference to the development of two virtual mental health patients produced for a multilingual e-learning course for European mental health nurses. Focusing on narrative VPs, the paper provides a brief overview of various types and potential uses of VP techniques, along with central elements of good practice in VP development. The five phase development framework used in the creation of the two VPs is presented. Processes detailed include the design and construction of case scenarios and multimedia components, in addition to initial usability and validity testing. VPs like those described here are a relatively inexpensive way of integrating virtual simulation technology into nursing education, particularly within online, blended and/or cross-cultural learning environments.

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