The role of virtual interactive simulators in medical education: Exploring their integration as an assessment methodology in clinical years

El papel de los simuladores virtuales interactivos en la educación médica: Explorando su integración como metodología de evaluación en los años clínicos


Assessment takes a fundamental role in medical education. In Portugal, the main assessment method used is multiple-choice questions (MCQ). The virtual interactive patients (VIP) as an assessment method can be indicated for the development of clinical reasoning for medical students of the clinical years. This study compared the use of MCQ and VIP as assessment methodologies in medical students.


A randomized crossover study carried out, which 35 Portuguese medical students from clinical years evaluated by MCQ and VIP in four medical specialties. In each specialty, students randomized into two groups. One group started being evaluated by MCQ and finished with VIP, the other vice-versa. After the evaluation, students asked to complete a satisfaction questionnaire.


The final score was higher with the VIP than MCQ method (MCQ: 67.40±8.96 vs. VIP: 73.34±10.8; p<0.01) with significant differences higher in Clinical History and Physical Examination. The satisfaction quiz showed although both methodologies are adequate and satisfactory, but VIP method allows to improve knowledge.


VIP is more accurate for clinical reasoning, accepted by medical students and should be integrated into the pre-graduate medical curriculum with other methodologies already used. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed a digital transformation of medical education and VIP will have a crucial role as a knowledge and evaluation method.

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