Virtual patients: pre-clinical 1

Project summary


Virtual Patients (VPs) are the key to delivering a patient-centred curriculum in the Bachelor of Medicine five-year programme at the University of Southampton. In Year 1 the aim of the VPs is to present a realistic clinical scenario from which students can experience a patient journey and the clinical processes involved, and have the opportunity to review, apply, integrate and contextualise their basic and clinical science knowledge.

A VP is arranged over the themed weeks of a course, and each week students have an opportunity to be involved in a different aspect of the VP's care related to their studies during that week, thus creating a blended learning environment.

The VP provides a framework that links a variety of curriculum activities taught in each week of the course facilitating student learning, application, integration and contextualisation.

Key features


The Year 1 VP creates an environment in which students can see the clinical process through the patient's eyes, experiencing medicine from their perspective.

The key features of the VPs include:

Interactive animated clinical scenario
The first course with a VP, the Nervous and Locomotor 1 course, starts after the Foundation of Medicine course at a time when students have little knowledge of clinical processes. The interactive animated scenario for a VP should enable students to experience the clinical process in a realistic environment.

Interactive tasks and feedback
Students are presented with interactive quizzes related to the basic and clinical sciences. Feedback is given for each question and at the end of each weekly case students receive individualised feedback on their performance. Additional resources are provided to help students improve where their understanding is insufficient.

Embedded learning objects and materials
Interactive learning objects and materials are embedded into the animated scenario. At certain points students can interact with the graphic illustrations and videos to obtain further information and test their knowledge. For example, in the Tim Brown case, students can access a 3D interactive explanation and quiz of the Glasgow Coma Scale and Score.

Data retrieval
Individual student data is recorded to a database enabling students to stop and restart the Tim Brown case at any time. This data is also used to analyse and reflect upon their own performance, generate individualised feedback and produce reports for evaluation.



  • Chief investigator and eLearning solution developer: Dr Sunhea Choi
  • Principal investigator and lead author for Tim Brown: Dr Alexandra Webb
  • Lead author for VP, Sam with Pompe disease: Dr Seán J Slaght
  • Contributors: Dr John Heyworth, Dr Farhad Golestani, Dr Sarah Ernis
  • Multimedia Developer: Lizzie Ault
  • eLearning Developer: Jean-Rémy Duboc, Andy Livy and Matthew Hammerton
  • Animation script: Kirstin Martin (BM5 student)



Virtual Patients Year 1 has been developed by the Faculty of Medicine with match funding from NHS Education South Central.