Using volunteer simulated patients in development of pre-registration pharmacists: Learning from the experience


  • Debra Nestel Division of Surgery, Oncology, Reproductive Biology and Anaesthesia, Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology, Imperial College London, London, UK
  • Angela Calandra Department of Pharmacy Practice, Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia
  • Rohan A. Elliot Department of Pharmacy Practice, Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia


Simulated patients, standardised patients, communication, role play, pharmacy education


Effective communication is recognised as a key professional skill for pharmacists. Pharmacy education has a relatively recent history of communication training. Content and methods vary widely and limited use is made of simulated patients (SPs). The purpose of this paper is to describe and evaluate a communication session that uses volunteer SPs to support the training of pre-registrant pharmacists (PRPs). The session enabled PRPs to interview an SP and observe their colleagues in different scenarios. Each group was facilitated by an experienced pharmacist. SPs, PRPs and tutors participated in feedback. Evaluation data was collected immediately after the session. Participants rated the session highly in terms of educational value. PRPs met learning objectives that focused on practice and reflection. Feedback on performance was highly valued. A volunteer SP session can support learning of PRPs. We do not know whether the benefits will have lasting value or translate into practice. Although we used volunteer SPs, scenarios with higher challenge are likely to require the use of professional SPs. Volunteer SPs provided an opportunity for direct involvement of users of health care services in health professional education.


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Research Article