Efficacy of a Virtual Mock Trial for Interprofessional Learning
A medical negligence trial can be stressful for all involved and may be the first time in a courtroom for many health professionals. To provide students the opportunity to learn from, with and about each other, the Mock Trial was established as an annual collaborative learning event between the University of Arkansas Little Rock Law School and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in 2018. In 2021, Mock Trial was conducted virtually with the goal of continuing high-quality IPE throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students participate as jury members via Zoom and first hear the case (opening statements, Plaintiff’s case, Defendant’s case, closing statements and jury instructions) before moving to IP jury breakout rooms to deliberate and reach a verdict. Verdicts are delivered in the main room and followed by a debriefing discussion. To assess the efficacy of the experience we compared student evaluations from 2018 and 2019 (face-to-face) to those from 2021 (virtual).
A total of 179 learners participated in three face-to-face Mock Trials and 143 in the virtual offering. The virtual event included learners from 19 professions from 4 institutions and 12 facilitators. Evaluations assessed IPEC competencies. For the virtual Mock Trial learners (96%) strongly agreed/agreed “this activity demonstrated the value of IP collaborative practice to prevent malpractice lawsuits” and 97% felt this was a valuable educational activity. Representative qualitative data includes: “as a law student it was interesting to see what laypeople take away from the evidence…”, “watching the process of a mock trial provided insight into the litigation process”, “the most valuable experience is hearing other people’s perspective”.
Virtual large-scale simulation-based IP events are effective for providing the opportunity to gain knowledge and insight into both the process of a medical negligence trial and perspective of different professionals.