Using Virtual Medical Simulation for Communication Training
Virtual simulations support practical training to improve patient-provider interactions
Good patient-provider communication is a core component of delivering high-quality patient care. But sometimes, training programs to improve medical students’ interpersonal communication skills aren’t effective. Facilities often use standardized patients — actors or other students engaging in role-playing as actual patients — for training purposes. However, med students may find it difficult to suspend disbelief or take a role-playing scenario seriously.
Virtual medical simulations have emerged into this landscape as an effective tool to improve patient communication skills. AI-powered virtual standardized patients can adopt distinct personalities, attitudes, medical histories, health conditions, and symptoms to deliver immersive simulated experiences that model real-life patient-provider interactions.
Keep reading to learn how online simulation programs with virtual standardized patients can help medical students in New York City, NY, and worldwide practice and improve vital communication skills.
Initiate Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBRIT) Counseling
SBRIT is a public health approach for identifying patients with substance abuse disorders and delivering early intervention and treatment services. A screening identifies at-risk patients and assesses the severity of substance abuse. Brief intervention focuses on providing awareness, education, and counseling services to encourage at-risk patients to change their behaviors. Finally, a referral to treatment is provided when high-risk patients are determined to need specialty care.
Medical students who role-play with virtual standardized patients can practice the SBRIT approach and learn how to talk to patients effectively about substance abuse and treatment options. Students will become more skilled at recognizing risk factors for abuse, using standard screening tools to evaluate risk levels, and recommending appropriate treatment.
Practice Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Motivational interviewing (MI) is another public health approach that aims to motivate patients to make positive lifestyle changes for their health. It’s an approach used to address topics like quitting smoking, making dietary changes to lose excess weight, exercising, quitting alcohol, and other behaviors that affect a patient’s health and well-being. Motivational interviewing is guided by the idea of providers collaborating with patients to explore and resolve their ambivalence about change — rather than issuing directives or trying to influence immediate behavioral modifications.
Virtual simulation training can lead medical students through role-playing exercises to practice effective MI techniques. Students will have the chance to strengthen critical skills in collaborative communication, active listening, and compassionate engagement.
Foster Empathetic Communications
Empathy is the most valuable skill a doctor can possess. Every day, providers engage in difficult conversations with patients about mental health, suicide, substance abuse, domestic abuse, cancer, chronic illness, end-of-life care, and more. Simulated scenarios with AI-powered patients can help medical students practice leading challenging conversations from a place of empathy, compassion, respect, and kindness. Students can also learn how to navigate common pitfalls and obstacles that emerge during tough healthcare conversations.
One of the most useful features of virtual simulation software is instant feedback. Students receive immediate virtual coaching to help them learn which communication strategies are and aren’t effective when providing patient care. They have the chance to learn from mistakes and repeat simulations to improve weak areas.
Level 3 Audiovisual has years of experience designing, engineering, and installing medical simulation systems in training hospitals, medical and nursing schools, ORs, and ERs across the United States. Let us help you find the solutions you need to implement virtual medical simulations into your training programs. Give us a call or reach out online to set up a consultation.