October 2022

Transferring an experience: Tricks We Used to Retain Students and Maximize Interactions in a 4-week Virtual Inter-professional Course

We presented to AMEE the idea of designing, implementing and evaluating a virtual national course with the title of “Gamified Inter-professional Course for learning How to Manage Diabetic Patients’’ and after receiving the student initiative grant of AMEE (SIGA), we held it. In the following, we are going to give you a general explanation about the course and its objectives, and then we will share with you more specifically our positive experiences about the factors that we did to retain the students with maximum interactions and learning from the course.

Due to the COVID pandemic and the boom of virtual training, the importance of inter-professional interactions in the management of diabetic patients in our course and the lack of pharmacy students in a number of universities in the country, we decided to hold the course virtually.

92 students from three fields of medicine, nursing and pharmacy from 18 universities of medical sciences in Iran participated in this course and they were placed in 4-person teams consisting of three fields. In each week offline contents were uploaded on the course site and online meetings were held, then students managed real scenarios together in virtual platforms. The objectives of the course were to: Improve participants' attitudes about their roles in an inter-professional team, establish relationships with teammates and collaborate in team decision-making, acquire practical knowledge in Diabetes Mellitus in an engaging way and develop the ability to manage related scenarios.

In order to achieve these objectives, it was necessary for the students to stay on the course until the end and to maintain the composition of the inter-professional teams where each of the students played a complementary role. At first, this issue caused us concern, but with the following points in the course, we were able to turn this concern into a positive experience:
Gamification: The use of gamification elements, including the story of the course, in which the student were involved as a member of the treatment and care team. The scenarios were presented under the titles of minor and major challenges with different points and levels. Personal feedback and leaderboards were provided continuously. Also, as the summative assessment, a virtual escape room was held at the end of the course.

Creating a friendly atmosphere: In the first days of the course, various synchronous and asynchronous ice breakers were done. Also, the facilitators created camaraderie between the team members by playing games in the first week.

Frequent needs assessments of expected capabilities: During the course, new contents were prepared according to the emerging needs of the students.

Collaboration of peer students in the production of course content: It made the contents of the course more attractive and suitable to the taste of Z generation students. Especially some of the contents of the course, which were video files of a maximum of 10 minutes and in the form of the autobiography of the drug avatar, were very well received by the students. Also, the micro content allowed the students to use them whenever and wherever they wanted, thus it offered high flexibility to them.

Accompanying a group of experts with students: Experts in medicine, nursing and pharmacy, medical education were in contact with the students during the course.
Assigning a facilitator to each 4-member team: During the course, they checked the students' performance and informed the mentors about the decrease in team cooperation as soon as possible.

Time flexibility and the use of different virtual platforms: Deadlines for solving challenges and viewing files were adjusted according to the student's requests. 


Najmeh Ghasemi, Dr. Fakhrosadat Mirhosseini, Farima Raeesi, Dr. Zahra Rezaie, Dr. Maryam Alla, Shayan Fattahian.

Department of Medicine, Shahrekord University of Medical Science, Shahrekord, Iran.