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Virtual patients are computer-based simulators of patient encounters for the purposes of instruction, practice, and assessment. Although virtual patients have been around for some time they have yet to become part of mainstream medical education. A major reason for this would seem to be a lack of clarity as to what educational value virtual patients actually have. This paper argues that virtual patients should be seen as activities rather than artifacts and that activity theory can be used todoi:10.1007/s40037-014-0134-z pmid:25082311 pmcid:PMC4152464 fatcat:536o7ggtdfe7xaucvwunmk75pu