Health care practitioners come to understand their professional roles through socialization processes. This project investigates value sets that are constructed through interactions between medical students and two important socializing agents: standardized patients and virtual patients. Through in-depth interviews with medical students and key administrators at two schools as well as an analysis of rhetorical artifacts about the formal curricula at both schools, we explored the ideological aspects of medical instruction as constituted and reinforced, perhaps subtly, covertly, and even inadvertently, through the pedagogical practices of using standardized and virtual patients. Our results highlight how these medical students perceive standardized and virtual patient interactions as an opportunity to manage uncertainty, and confront a primary tension they will face in enacting their professional rotes—being cost effective and efficient while also treating “patients as people.”.
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