What is VPBLM?

  • The Virtual Patient Based Learning Model (VPBLM) implements a set of research-informed instructional design strategies that blend current state-of-the-art instructional technology with online teaching practices that promote language fluency and cultural competence in a complex Spanish for Medical Professional learning environment.
  • In this process, healthcare students explore core cultural concepts, engage with voice-enabled Spanish-speaking virtual patients, and then connect practiced communication skills in a clinical or community healthcare setting.

What is the need?

  • In many healthcare settings, critical language and cultural barriers exists between patients with limited English proficiency and care providers. These language barriers negatively impact access to quality care and patient safety.
  • The best-identified remedy to limit language related healthcare inequities is the promotion of direct bilingual interactions between healthcare providers and their patients.
  • The goal of this project is to explore and test innovative and meaningful solutions to second language learning challenges within complex healthcare education environments for the advancement of bilingual education and cultural competence for healthcare professionals.

What does it solve?

Several years of program implementation have exposed the four important needs as evidenced through student feedback, instructor experience, and instructional design support. The goal of this project is to find innovative and meaningful solutions to language learning challenges through a systematic research design process to achieve better context, relevance, practice, and community.

  1. Relevance — Spanish for Medical Professionals program serves eight disciplines. Unfortunately, the majority of textbooks offer a one size fits all curriculum that expose students to a range of medical vocabulary and practices not relevant to their professional discipline.
  2. Engagement — Second language instructional activities focus to heavily written response which is important, but oral repetition is needed for strengthening listening and speaking activities.
  3. Community — Interaction with Virtual Patients offer advantages of instructional flexibility in a low anxiety environment, however the practical application of language skills have to be development with direct communication with spanish speaking communities.

How does it work?

VPBLM incorporates several instructional strategies based on research in design principles targeting student engagement, motivation, and game-based learning.

Exploracion — The exploration section introduces students to a set of core communication goals and concepts with emphasis on Latino patient cultural norms. Activities include review of important phrases, grammar lessons, and demonstration videos with a practical narrative. Additional side bar exploration is available to students that need further grammar support.

Practica — The practice section presents opportunities for student to practice key phrases and vocabulary through realtime voice interaction with a virtual patient. Students practice across three levels of difficulty based on pre-assessment score. Each level regulates the difficulty, speed, and feedback.

New Virtual Patient System (In development)

Example of previous Virtual Patient system

Conectar — The connect section is designed to offers students the opportunity to apply what they have practiced in a real-world setting through interaction with Spanish-Spanish-speaking community members or through international interactions.

Where can this go?

The Virtual Patient Based Learning Module follow an instructional design process of continuous improvement. It will be made available as an open source resource to ensure a continued lifespan. Currently there is interest in exploring gerontology possibilities and with pharmacology.