Photo copyright Phil Tragen

New research led by Edge Hill University has been awarded funding from the prestigious Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) to help improve training for future doctors and physician associates. 

The University has been named the recipient of ASME’s 2020 PhD/Doctoral Grant to investigate whether using virtual patients can reduce errors in diagnosis and improve clinical reasoning among early medical and physician associate students. 

The PhD programme will explore how using a virtual patient platform helps medical educators assess their students’ knowledge and identify the core self-regulated learning thinking required before, during and after making a diagnosis. 

Supervisors include Professor John Sandars and Professor Jeremy Brown of Edge Hill University, in partnership with Associate Professor Rakesh Patel and Associate Professor Christopher Madan at the University of Nottingham. 

John Sandars, Professor of Medical Education at Edge Hill and lead researcher on the project, said: “It’s a great honour to receive this funding from ASME in collaboration with our partners at the University of Nottingham.  

“This research will help to inform training for doctors and physician associates of the future by investigating the potential of virtual patient platforms to minimise errors in diagnosis and, most importantly, to keep patients safe – a value which underpins the core ethos of Edge Hill’s Medical School.” 

Professor John Sandars

The chosen candidate will receive a stipend, as well as support with the cost of consumables required for the research. ASME will also cover the registration cost to present the work at the Annual Scholarship Meeting. 

ASME Director of Awards, Professor Karen Mattick, said: “We’re delighted to announce the award of our fourth ASME PhD studentship. This award aims to promote high quality research into medical education and help to secure a career of talented medical education researchers nationally and internationally. 

“The PhD project funded this year explores feedback for early medical and physician associate students on their clinical reasoning and we hope the findings will inform undergraduate health professions education and, ultimately, improve healthcare practice.” 

Edge Hill’s Faculty of Health, Social Care & Medicine is one of the largest providers of health and social care education in the North West of England. With a range of Nursing and Medical programmes, students can take advantage of top facilities, including the new Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre, home to human patient simulators which can imitate a range of symptoms.