VPs, QSPs, Ensembles and Education

This talk will introduce the concept of using virtual patients, generated by quantitative systems pharmacology models that can be used as ensembles in teaching therapeutic decision-making to pharmacy students.  The concept of model validation will be reviewed and aligned with the concept of model use.  In an education setting the purpose of generating a virtual patient (VP) is to provide a realistic setting for a student to construct and reflect on their therapeutic decision-making process.  The critical element of this process is the student sees the VP as being equivalent to a real patient (RP) but that they also feel safe (safe from harming a real patient and safe from the overview of a supervisor). Seeing a VP as an RP requires the VP to be a valid experience. In this setting the student interaction with the VP is able to suspend disbelief, in that the student knows the VP is not real but their behaviours reflect the feeling that it is real, for instance the student feels empathy for their VP.  The reflective cycle occurs when several students debrief their experiences in treating their VP, realising there is no one correct solution as every VP behaves differently and the collective experience is gained from the ensemble of VP experiences.