An innovative online program is helping Pharmacy students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) learn how to respond to symptoms to achieve the best possible outcome for patients.
The individualised Skills Evaluation and Development (iSED) tool, developed by Senior Lecturer Sue Allen, has been described as a "strength" of the MPharm course.
Students are filmed taking part in a role-play, for example responding to a patient with indigestion, then watch themselves before capturing what happened on iSED. After submitting answers to yes/no questions, the program compares what they did to the ideal performance and issues immediate, tailored feedback.
This approach, which builds skills step-wise over four years, is proving a hit with students.
Bhumika Dave, in her third year, said the system allowed her to experiment with diagnosing a patient without the pressure of a real-life examination.
The 20-year-old said: "The system creates scenarios where a simulated patient has a health problem and we can ask questions to determine what's wrong. But it means we can make mistakes and learn from them - at the end the system suggests what we might have missed.
"When we then practise role-play examinations it means we are much more confident in asking questions and are much more alert to possibilities."
Ibrahim Barni, 21, said: "The iSED system has definitely helped me get better marks. It's so useful when you're preparing for exams.
"It prompts you to think about 'red flags' - symptoms that might indicate a more serious problem. And that is really important."
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Ms Allen developed iSED to enable students to diagnose their learning needs in responding to symptoms and specifically how to:
- Engage - set the scene to make a good first impression for the customer
- Identify - find out about a customer's symptoms and their lifestyle
- Resolve - give advice and recommend products
- Follow-up - take the opportunity to give health-promotion advice
The General Pharmaceutical Council, which accredits the DMU Pharmacy degree, has described iSED as a "particular strength".
Ms Allen said: "The value is in the feedback, helping students understand what they did well and not so well and, most importantly, how they can improve.
"They find the traffic light colour-coded feedback helpful, which indicates how competent they are compared to the gold standard.
"iSED asks the questions about what the students see and hear themselves or their peers doing in a given patient consultation. All the questions relate to key areas that are essential to making a successful patient interaction and consultation.
"The program is about objectivity - it takes away judgement - so students can practise and assess themselves at university or at home on their private iSED account and can track their progress across the course.
"iSED brings together students' communication skills, understanding of the individual patient and knowledge of symptoms and is all about the added value pharmacists can provide."
Posted on Tuesday 4th April 2017