Virtual Practice Environment
Greg Duncan, Lecturer, Department of Pharmacy Practice
Monash, like many schools of pharmacy, until recently taught aspects of professional
practice in a model pharmacy space. The model pharmacy has now been
demolished to make way for two new ‘Virtual Practice Environment (VPE)’ spaces.
Unlike the model pharmacy, which was a static environment displaying a fixed
traditional environment for community pharmacy services, the VPE provides a
dynamic, flexible and adaptable space that can be configured to create a sense of
immersion for students in a variety of healthcare and practice settings.
This facilitates some familiarity with the structure and processes they will experience
in practical placements throughout the course, but in an environment that is safe and
supervised in a carefully guided educational framework. These experiences are not
designed to replace any first hand practical experiences students will have during the
course, but better prepare students with a degree of familiarity of otherwise
unfamiliar environments and processes.
Each room contains three conjoined screens, to create an area 10m wide by 3m
high, for projecting hi-resolution images generating a sense of immersion for
students where they can interact with patients, other health professionals, and any
other relevant people both face-to-face and through technologies such as video
conferencing, online software and avatars and CGI content.
The projected images not only represent the current range of practice settings, such
as a community pharmacy, a hospital ward, a rural pharmacy depot, a remote
community health service setting, pharmaceutical industry settings, etc, but the
potential exists for development and representation of any setting. The spaces allow
students to reflect on the impact of the setting on their learning experience.
Reflective exercises provide a fundamental reinforcement of the educational process
and allow feedback not only to students but to staff for continuous quality
improvement of the learning experience. By its nature the VPE’s also has inherent
capacity to keep pace with changes in professional practice, and the evolution of
physical environments without the need for costly physical redevelopment.