• Sarah Green

GP Trainer Delivers Verdict on via video role-play.

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

Client and GP Trainer, Dr Matt Bull writes about his approach to working with the AvatarJo via video role-play service.


*Bull M1, Fell2 L, Agashi S3 1,2Three Spires Medical Practice, Truro, 3University of Exeter Medical School, Truro, Cornwall


Practising challenging interactions in a safe, structured environment in primary healthcare can be difficult. We present early results of a 2019 pilot using online, live simulations with Avatar Jo actors to enhance students' communication skills in complex areas of consultation such as breaking bad news, suicidal ideation and end of life decisions. Development of such skills is an important part of the General Medical Council’s Outcomes for Graduates 2018.


1. The Avatar Jo actor receives a detailed history for a fictional patient prior to the learning event and a 30 minute online appointment is booked.

2. Medical students identify an area of complex consultations skills that they would like to practice.

3. The group of students (ranging from 2-6) meet with a GP educational supervisor in a room with a webcam enabled computer. Each student has the opportunity to interact live with the actor with student peers observing on a separate screen.

4. Timeouts, playbacks and feedback from the actor enable skills to be identified and developed and can be practised immediately.

5. Each student receives a copy of their own simulated interaction for use in their reflective portfolio and conversations with their Professional Development Group Tutors.

6. The same patient interaction can be repeated during subsequent placements to build confidence and show progress


Initial results of this pilot suggest the use of role-playing and simulated patient practice as a part of a structured, supported, reflective learning environment has a positive impact on students’ communication skills in primary healthcare. Example student feedback includes: “I learnt a lot from listening to others, giving feedback and having a go myself”; “Was able to talk to a frail patient early in the morning and was able to transition this experience into information giving and consultation skill improvement later on in the afternoon via virtual acting.”


This methodology is more efficient, flexible, cost-effective and reproducible compared to traditional group role–play and represents a useful addition to community-based learning. It provides superb longitudinal learning opportunities with multiple potential training applications across all healthcare teams. We will continue the pilot on a larger scale in 2019-20 and will evaluate the results of this intervention.

For further information or enquiries:

Dr Matt Bull, is happy to talk to anyone about his work, process and use of via video role-play training and coaching. Email: matthew.bull2@nhs.net

For enquiries about buying or booking sessions please contact, Sarah Lincoln email: sarah.lincoln@avatarjo.com Tel: 07877 253573. www.avatarjo.co.uk

#GP #trainees #NHS #medicalschool #CSA #VTS

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