Virtual patients (VPs) have the potential to augment existing medical school curricula to teach history-taking and communication skills. A goal of our current efforts to study virtual characters in health professions education is to develop a system that can be independently accessed and thus user satisfaction is an important factor in how readily this technology will be adopted. Twenty-three medical students participated in a study in which they interviewed a virtual patient and were asked to rate the educational value of the experience. Despite some of the limitations in this developing technology, students were generally receptive to its use as an educational tool. Further enhancements to the system, including increased fidelity of the interaction and novel feedback mechanisms, should improve learner satisfaction with and adoption of the virtual patient system.
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