Project summary

Education for clinical practice is a complex process, involving the development of a body of knowledge, skills and multiple aspects of professionalism. ‘Traditional’ approaches, with modules in single discipline biosciences, bear little relationship to eventual learner needs for clinical practice. Practitioners act by synthesising a range of relevant information, identifying and testing solutions. Developing competence in this crucial process requires an approach that differs from traditional teaching, where students are recipients of information. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is one example of widespread form of learning which uses patient simulation to create a learning style close to the needs of practice. Virtual patients (VPs) are encouraging students to use their knowledge base to explore simple management decisions as they work through patient scenarios.

The objectives of the CROESUS project are following. (i) To introduce innovative pedagogy methods using scenario-based learning tools, virtual cases and patients thus to enable future physicians and healthcare professionals to simulate important steps in the diagnostic and therapeutic process before exposure to patients. (ii) To transfer know-how and best practices from the institutions which have already gone through a successful implementation of authentic, motivating, competency-based learning styles into the medical curriculum. (iii) To link with the existing regional (Czech/Slovak) medical education network MEFANET and other European projects with similar objectives and use this wide community of students and teachers to disseminate the patient cases and project’s outputs more widely.

The project partnership has been based upon long-standing collaborations and awareness of each other’s work, and shared research interests between three institutions:

  1. Institute of Biostatistics and Analysis at Masaryk University (Czech Republic),
  2. Department of Medical education at St George's University of London (United Kingdom)
  3. Faculty of Medicine at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice (Slovakia).

CROESUS trains academics and students to create their own learning and teaching content and introduce interactive patient systems as well as innovative pedagogy methods in the form of VPs into the clinical elements of the course. It transfers knowledge from leaders in virtual patient (VP) development and effectively implements VPs in the medical curriculum of the participant institutions. It engages with other partners and networks, particularly the MEFANET network, to increase the use of such platforms and methodologies in the wider community. Importantly, it presents these within the culture and languages of the participant countries.

The project comes up with two intellectual outcomes:

  1. ICT platform for scenario-based learning,
  2. Methodologies for preparation, training and implementation of VP/PBL in clinical medicine.

Implementation phases of the activities aims at:

  • embedding the interactive VP design, and PBL processes into 4 clinical attachments in participating institutions,
  • implementation of the selected ICT platform for authoring and delivering VP/PBL cases.

The target groups at the level of participating institutions as well as at the level of the whole MEFANET network are addressed at annual MEFANET 2014, 2015 conferences. CROESUS addresses also a wider audience on the European level – at other two multiplier events organized as workshops parallel to well-recognized events of European medical education community (AMEE 2015, AMEE 2016).