Development of non-technical skills through virtual patients for undergraduate nursing students: An exploratory study Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION:Non-technical skills (NTS) are fundamental requirements for health professional graduates for safe and competent practice. Technology enhanced simulation, including virtual patients (VPs), is suggested to be effective in developing NTS. PURPOSE:The purpose of this paper is to explore what participants learnt about NTS following interactions with the VPs in the case study. DESIGN:Case study methodology was used to explore learning by undergraduate nursing students related to NTS following interactions with VPs. First- (n = 40) and third-year (n = 31) undergraduate nursing students from two universities in Victoria, Australia agreed to participate in focus groups and interviews. These were audio-recorded, transcribed and then underwent framework analysis. A priori codes in the framework used NTS categories including communication, situation awareness, teamwork, decision-making skills, leadership, managing stress and coping with fatigue. FINDINGS:Overall, students in both years and universities reported that interactions with VPs developed knowledge and skills across all categories of NTS to varying degrees. Third-year students suggested that interactions with VPs enabled development of knowledge and skills, as well as practise of selected NTS in the clinical setting. CONCLUSION:Interactions with VPs across the curriculum may assist undergraduate nursing students in developing knowledge, skill and practice of NTS categories including communication, situation awareness, teamwork, decision-making skills and duty, advocacy and empathy.

publication date

  • 2019