Dr Nina Dutta, Course Lead for Medicine In the Community Apprenticeship (MICA), and Dr Nicky Hawkins, Medical Education Fellow, used Zoom to design and facilitate an interactive consultation skills session for third year MBBS students

Please note that Zoom is not supported by all Faculty EdTech teams and ICT. Therefore, it is imperative that before you use it for teaching purposes you discuss your requirements with your Faculty EdTech team.

 MICA is traditionally a 10-week placement in General Practice that offers a valuable opportunity for third year medical students to develop their history taking skills within a primary care setting. In view of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, all face-to-face components of the course for Term 3 were suspended. We were therefore keen to develop a new session that would enable students to practice their consultation skills remotely.

 Before the session

  • We set up a 2-hour Zoom meeting for the correct date and time.
  • All students were emailed one week in advance with a plan for the session and the Zoom joining instructions.
  • We developed a digital ‘History Taking student pack’; a PDF containing four role-play scenarios commonly encountered within primary care. For each scenario we provided a brief for the patient, the doctor and the examiner.

 During the session

  • 34 students participated, and four MICA tutors were present to help facilitate the session.
  • During the introduction, students were asked to mute their microphones to avoid any noise feedback.
  • The ‘History Taking student pack’ PDF was shared with all students via the Chat and the structure and learning objectives of the session outlined.
  • Due to the large number of students any questions were submitted via the Chat, which was summarised and presented intermittently by one of the tutors acting as ‘the voice of the students’.
  • We then used the ‘breakout room’ function to randomly allocate students to individual groups of 3-4. This meant that each student in the group would have the opportunity to be the doctor for one at least one of the four scenarios, and all students would have the opportunity to receive feedback on their consultation skills.
  • For each case, students were allocated 20 minutes in their small groups to role-play the scenario, and were encouraged to turn on their video, as well as microphones, to enable interaction during this time.
  • MICA tutors were allocated to different groups for each of the four scenarios, meaning each student group was joined by a tutor for at least one scenario. The tutor was able to provide feedback and troubleshoot queries.
  • Breakout rooms were temporarily closed every 20 minutes, so as to bring all participants back to the main room for a 10-minute debrief between each scenario. This helped us to keep to time, and ensure all groups covered the key learning points for each scenario.
  • Engagement during the debriefs was maintained by using the Chat. Students were encouraged to both ask and answer questions using this function, which was managed by the tutors as before.

After the session

  • On completion of the session students were emailed a PDF summarising the key learning points from each of the four scenarios.


  • As part of the end of course evaluation, students were asked to give feedback on this session specifically; overall it was very well received, and students suggested that having more sessions in a similar format would be valuable.
“I think this was a really great session - because it was in small groups, we could engage with our peers and the tutor. Given the limitation of not being on placement, it's a great way to practice our history-taking skills. I would be really happy to have more sessions like this interspersed throughout the year or before OSCE/PACES to help practice the history-taking component.” – Year 3 MICA student.