Dr. Martin Klapheke, professor of psychiatry at the UCF College of Medicine, is the winner of the 2013 Innovations Award from the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry (ADMSEP). The national award recognized Dr. Klapheke’s leadership of a Clinical Simulation Initiative (CSI) that provides a free national database of online psychiatric teaching cases.

Dr. Klapheke and co-honoree Dr. Howard Liu, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, were honored for their “innovative, creative and inspiring approach to medical student education.”

The online modules include a variety of psychiatric cases, including dementia, bipolar disorder, adolescent depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders. Standardized patients play the role of the mentally ill patient based on a detailed script provided by CSI. Students see how a psychiatrist interviews and interacts with the patient and determines a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. The 30-minute modules also include video clips from follow-up visits so students learn how patients improve and how treatment can be adjusted for optimal results.

Dr. Klapheke uses the interactive sessions in the Brain and Behavior module for second-year UCF College of Medicine students and in third-year didactics during the students’ psychiatry rotation. The advantages of the online interactive system are many.  For example, students are able to see a variety of cases they might not otherwise encounter in a six-week rotation. The interactive sessions allow students to work individually, in groups, or with Dr. Klapheke so they can discuss treatment options, observations and different aspects of the patient-doctor therapeutic relationship.

“A focus at UCF COM is on active learning, and use of simulation can help provide a more active, engaging learning experience,” Dr. Klapheke said. “Students are always longing to see more patient-doctor interactions. These modules allow them to see clinical applications of didactic material and also allow them to see continuity of care.”

CSI began in 2010 and now has completed five modules with a sixth to be uploaded soon. Four of the modules are published on MedEdPORTAL and nine others are currently in production on topics including eating and sleep disorders, alcohol dependence and withdrawal, and the childhood disorders. Medical schools and Psychiatry Departments nationwide, including Duke, University of California Davis, Georgia Regents University, and the Medical University of South Carolina, are also now producing videos for the CSI project. The program has even expanded into Canada, where two medical schools are designing CSI modules as part of their curriculum, and in August, Dr. Klapheke will travel to Prague to present the CSI program at a meeting of the Association of Medical Education in Europe.

“The program is really hitting its stride now with more and more medical schools coming on line,” he said, adding that MedEdPORTAL feedback shows the learning system has been viewed in at least fifteen countries around the world.

Student satisfaction with the simulation modules has been very positive. Students were surveyed before and after modules about their confidence in diagnosing and treating specific psychiatric disorders. Confidence ratings were significantly higher after the module training.

Through real-life encounters, students see examples of the important doctor-patient relationship necessary in treating psychiatric disorders and such learning experiences also help de-stigmatize mental health issues. “Education always helps decrease stigma,” Dr. Klapheke said. “And no matter what specialty students go into, they are going to encounter patients that have psychiatric conditions. For that reason, they need an increased level of skill and confidence.”

Dr. Klapheke was one of 13 faculty members who received funding from the UCF College of Medicine in its inaugural competitive research grant program in 2012. The $20,000 individual grants fund studies in basic and clinical sciences and medical education and are designed to help faculty pursue innovative research ideas. Dr. Klapheke also credits the Faculty Collaboration Center and Dale Voorhees, director of learning systems, and Alexis Chacon, digital imaging technician, for their assistance in producing module videos and research posters on the CSI.