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Meet Tina, Your Virtual Patient

November 13, 2013 — Meet Tina, the 28 year-old woman with whom many CNHP students are now familiar. Although she is a virtual avatar and the product of educational software developer Shadow Health, as far as CNHP students are concerned, Tina is a real patient.

Tina AvatarDrexel University and the College of Nursing and Health Professions have long been at the forefront of innovation and new technology. As a result, some CNHP programs like the Physician Assistant and Pre-licensure Nursing programs are beginning to use a new type of technology in their curricula for both practice and assessment purposes.

Shadow Health’s Tina avatar is a character in their web-based interactive system, similar in some ways to the popular online avatar world Second Life, though geared specifically toward students in clinical health professions fields.

According to Dr. Leland “Rocky” Rockstraw, assistant Dean of Simulation, Clinical & Technology Academic Operations, “You knock, go into the room, interact and ask questions. Based on the questions you ask, she will respond in certain ways.”

Dr. Rockstraw continued, “You also click and touch, where you conduct physical checkups.” What truly makes Shadow Health unique, however, is that Tina acts like a real patient by responding to how she is treated, approached or the type of questions she is asked by the student practitioner.

Shadow Health’s tool is broken down into 10 modules, each of which correlate with a body system that students learn about in class. The program serves not only as reinforcement for learning in the classroom, but also as a source to develop interpersonal skills needed by clinical professionals. “The response is instant,” said Dr. Rockstraw. “It encourages the students to practice skills based on that immediate feedback given by the software. It almost acts as a source of standardization.”

Tina Avatar

Several academic departments within the College of Nursing and Health Professions have been beta testing this program with current students. The Physician Assistant and N

urse Anesthesia programs are considering using Shadow Health as an online supplement to learning. The RN-BSN Program has already approved Shadow Health as a required supplement to the already rigorous curriculum,starting this winter term. Another benefit of the software is that CNHP faculty can provide direct critical feedback to students based on how they interacted with Tina. Professors are able to view the type of questions asked by the student and how the student reacted in turn to Tina’s responses. They are then able to give the student advice and make recommendations for interpersonal skill improvement.

Though quite similar to the actual real-life standardized patient evaluations, Dr. Rockstraw sees certain advantages to using Shadow Health in addition to the other simulation activities in which CNHP students have been partaking for years. “Real life standardized patient evaluations only allow one attempt per student, but with Tina, the student is allowed to learn through repetition as many times as they want.” He elaborated, “It is unique because we are in-line with Drexel’s innovative and technology infused learning mission.”


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