Have you ever wanted to combine several similar patient cases into one simulation but worried about creating a simulation that was too long?  Just this week, I reviewed a simulation that presents 4 patient cases in roughly 15 to 20 minutes!

This simulation used a guided discovery approach that placed me in a busy primary care practice where I learned key information while diagnosing and treating patients.

What intrigued me most about this simulation was its strategy of having one character as the primary patient, and then interspersing three other patients throughout the simulation.  Here is the sequence of instructional activities:

  1. See patient 1 briefly (7 screens)
  2. See patient 2 (3 screens)
  3. Patient 1 returns a few weeks later (12 screens)
  4. See patient 3 (6 screens)
  5. See patient 4 (8 screens)
  6. Patient 1 returns (5 screens)
This approach provides continuity for the learners because they start and end with the same patient.  Yet, in between treating this patient they briefly treat other patients. While I am not a physician, this feels very much like the real world context of a busy primary care practice.

It also kept my interest by illustrating different issues to consider while diagnosing and treating patients. This strategy is very helpful since often a single patient cannot adequately present many aspects of diagnosing or treating a patient with the same diagnosis. For example, one of the patients in this case turned out to be HIV positive, which caused his presentation to be different. Another patient required an emergency consult with an ophthalmologist.

My takeaways from this simulation are to keep things fast paced by briefly exploring several small mini-cases as subplots to the main task of caring for the primary patient.

How can you combine several patients in one simulation?