Online Simulation

Healthcare Teaching, Training, and Simulation Online

For over 30 years, the Standardized Patient Program (SPP) at the University of Toronto has helped medical and healthcare students develop their communication and interpersonal skills, ensuring that they not only have the technical proficiency to practice medicine, but also the patient-centered communication skills to meaningfully engage with their patients. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical learners have had to adjust to the cancellation of classes, hospital rotations, and assessments, all of which involve the opportunity for experiential learning. This disruption may go on for months to come.

Online Teaching, Training and Simulation through Videoconference

To ensure continuity in medical and healthcare students’ experiential learning, the SPP has pivoted from in-person standardized patient encounters to utilizing SPs in online video-conferencing applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. These platforms have proven effective as online teaching tools that are user-friendly and have multiple levels of (evolving) security options. Leveraging this technology, we can simulate face-to-face encounters in order to:

  • practice/assess history-taking, data collection, counselling skills
  • observe organization of pertinent patient information
  • review differential and therapeutic management plans
  • elicit physical findings by verbalizing appropriate maneuver/test
  • evaluate verbal and non-verbal communication
  • illustrate that the communications aspect in video conferencing is similar to the telehealth format
  • practice decision-making skills, and how to interpret results
  • receive post-encounter feedback from simulated clients and tutors
  • provide a forum for participant debrief
  • prepare for a world where more online interfacing will become the norm

SP sessions that have been postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 may be able to be adapted to utilize this technology. This is also an opportunity to allow for an additional mode of student learning and interaction, one which may prove instrumental in the practice of healthcare going forward.

Contact Us

If your department has cancelled any training or simulations, or is considering uploading simulations online, and wants to explore how the SPP can support new learning initiatives using remote online training and simulation, reach out to Lorena Dobbie,