Virtual Translation

A Virtual Translational Step from Classroom to Real World

The University of Michigan College of Pharmacy has been a leader in the implementation of team based learning (TBL) which is teaching pedagogy that “flips the classroom”.  This active learning instruction was implemented to improve long-term learning outcomes by utilizing engaged, action-based learning experiences for students prior to their advanced pharmacy practice experiences (i.e. experiential education) where they interact with real life patients as a student pharmacist. While TBL implementation has been very successful within our curriculum and has allowed us to measure some of our outcomes [1], there is still a critical educational need for our students to actually practice what they have learned through TBL in an interactive fashion before directly working with real patients within the health care system.  Therefore the purpose of this proposal is to obtain the resources necessary for the implementation of virtual patient simulation experiences within our therapeutic problem solving course series and to measure the impact of this intervention on student learning and outcomes.  It is our expectation that virtual patient simulation implementation will add another significant and unique action-based learning experience within our curriculum and will further contribute to enhancing the critical thinking skills of our students.

The funds accompanying this proposal allow us to secure a virtual simulation software program, which utilizes a branched-outcome decision-making process entitled Decision Simulation ( This type of simulation program is optimal for student learning because they will be able to immediately see the impact of their decisions related to medication therapy and how patient outcomes are directly related to these recommendations.  Implementation of virtual patient simulations will have a significant potential to create a sustainable change in how our students are educated, as faculty can easily adapt and create new cases as new mediations become available or treatment guidelines change. Virtual simulation allows for critical reinforcement of the application principals taught within our TBL pedagogy and creates a necessary intermediate step between classroom and clinic that our curriculum is currently lacking.  We feel that this one relatively simple change in how we teach our students will greatly enhance their ability to critically think and apply their knowledge to the real health care world.

Project Team:
Vicki Ellingrod, College of Pharmacy
Barry Bleske, College of Pharmacy
Tami Remington, College of Pharmacy