The Lab for Professional Learning in High-Tech Health Care specializes in research on expertise and professional development of high-tech health care professionals. Researchers in our network study professional development as well as knowledge and skill acquisition within the broad domain of health professions education. The scope of the research ranges from professional identity development of undergraduate technical medical students to workplace-based assessment of experienced surgeons. The research program is closely aligned with educational development within the high-tech health care curricula of the University of Twente. National and international collaborations strengthen our approach and our results are disseminated through journal publications, conference presentations and workshops among others.

Technical medical professional identity development

This theme concerns the development of a professional identity of high-tech health care professionals. Health care professionals are continuously faced with technological innovations which opens up new opportunities to improve diagnosis and therapy. Technical Physicians, a new type of professional who improves and designs diagnostic and therapeutic procedures using technology, therefore need to shape their own professional identity in this young and developing domain. Research within this theme covers what this professional identity of the Technical Physician is, how this identity influences a Technical Physician’s actions and in what way students can develop their professional identity by self-directed learning.

Performance-based assessment of complex technical medical skills

This theme concerns the development of assessment methods for both psychomotor and cognitive skills associated with the development of adaptive expertise in health care. An increased focus on accountability, certification and re-certification in health care to guarantee competent professionals who deliver high quality care increases the need for objective and transparent assessment methods. Furthermore, advanced simulators and statistical models offer new opportunities for metrics-based assessment to complement more subjective assessment methods such as direct observation by experts. Research within this theme covers skill acquisition assessment of cognitive and psychomotor skill 1) using technology 2) by advanced statistical modelling and 3) by methods of direct observation.

Simulation-based training to enhance conceptual understanding

This theme concerns the use of simulation for both knowledge acquisition and technical and non-technical skill acquisition. Simulation provides a safe yet authentic learning experience for students and professionals. Physical simulators, such as the human patient simulator, can be used in technical medical education to integrate knowledge from the technical and medical domain. Research within this theme covers what is learned by students and professionals during a simulation exercise and how (simulation) technology can be used to 1) provide feedback on learning and 2) assess learning.

The role of simulated patients in student learning

This theme concerns the relation between simulated patients’ cognitions, behaviors and student learning. Simulated patients are a valuable and powerful tool to learn students to communicate and behave professionally with patients. However, simulated patients might also unintentionally influence student learning in a negative way. They too have expectations about student learning which might interfere with or even contradict learning objectives. Research within this theme covers what students learn from an encounter with a simulated patient and how simulated patients’ cognitions and behavior influence student learning.