Training on virtual patients

What people eat has a significant impact on diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. With nutritional therapy, dieticians make a valuable contribution to the preservation of health. However, the approaches to diagnosis and therapy in dietetics differ from country to country. The EU project IMPECD (Improvement of Education and Competences in Dietetics) is therefore developing uniform standards in the form of a freely accessible online course (massive open online course – MOOC). Training will thereby be done on virtual patients. This innovative learning opportunity promotes quality in studies and the dietetic profession as well as international exchange.

Dietetics is a young discipline in European universities. Therefore, curricula and training from one country to another differ; as a result, methods by which dietary patterns are ascertained, findings are compiled and therapies are proposed also differ. Currently, there is not yet a Europe-wide basis for this. The IMPECD project will however contribute to the development of such.

„A Europe-wide uniform basis for procedures and working methods in dietetics would enhance exchange and discussion and thus the quality of dietetic care as well as support and promote practical work with patients“, says IMPECD project manager Alexandra Kolm of the Institute of Health Sciences of the St. Poelten University of Applied Sciences.

European cooperation on virtual humans

Together with Universities of Applied Sciences in Antwerp (B), Fulda (D), Groningen (NL) and Neubrandenburg (D) ten virtual clinical case studies are being developed. „The examples are based on real cases, but are didactically prepared and further developed“, explains Andrea Werkman of the Hanzehogeschool in Groningen.

„On the basis of experience, the project will design a uniform process model for practical work and thereby establish a foundation for improved nutrition therapy in Europe“, says Kathrin Kohlenberg-Müller from the University of Applied Sciences Fulda. The Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool Antwerpen is developing the didactic documents relating to the case studies led by Koen Vanherle. The difficulty of the case studies orients itself to the individual training level of students. European and national professional associations support the project as members of an expert board.

The uniform process model to be developed will in the future also facilitate international exchange: „It fosters the implementation of international research projects, the comparison of project and therapy results, the choice of therapies and the cross-border mobility of professionals“ , says Luzia Valentini of the University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg.

Lifelong learning through online course

For training with case studies, a massive open online course (MOOC) is being developed under the direction of Elisabeth Höld at the St. Poelten University of Applied Sciences. This will later be freely accessible after the completion of the project for universities. MOOCs (pronounced Muugs) are open online courses and lectures usually with a large number of participants. These courses have for several years been used intensively by universities.

In terms of lifelong learning this online course will in the future also be made available for dieticians who have already completed their training. The Service and Competence Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning (SKILL) and the Institute for Creative\Media /Technologies (IC\M /T) of the St. Poelten University of Applied Sciences support the scientific project team didactically and technically in developing the online course.


01.09.2015 – 31.08.2018


EU Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership for Higher Education

Approved project budget: 368.525,00€


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