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VR in medical education is an improving resource – The Minnesota Daily

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Virtual reality technology has entered education and is changing the landscape of skill building in science and medical training.

The university library system gives students access to virtual reality (VR) equipment that allows students to rehearse scenarios and methods that cannot be easily repeated in real life. It could revolutionize health science education if enough educators and students buy into it.

The Health Sciences Library has a virtual reality studio that gives students access to equipment that can be used for a variety of courses and programs.

According to Charlie Heinz, multimedia specialist at the university library system, technology is permeating health science education as well as other disciplines such as biomedical engineering and computer science.

Heinz noted that he sees a wide range of students using virtual reality, from undergraduates to graduate and professional students, all studying various programs and practicing a range of skills.

He considers VR technology to be most useful for studying moderately interactive scenarios like dissecting a virtual cadaver or experiencing a live patient care scenario like surgery without having to be in the room. operation.

Heinz pointed out that VR technology could solve a distance problem.

“You can actually put people in a VR headset and experience live surgery in an operating room,” he said. This could be extremely useful in cases where space or the number of people allowed in an area is limited.

VR technology could also be used to make patient encounters more accessible to students. Not only could this take the form of expanding standardized patient scenarios into the VR space, but also watching live patient encounters.

Heinz added that VR technology could be used to create interactive patient scenarios similar to “choose your own adventure,” games where you can make decisions that lead to different outcomes. “And then you can do it over and over again and see how the results improve,” he said.

This could be especially appealing to students hoping to reduce nervousness before anatomy exams or standardized live patient encounters. Heinz said he had a student in the past who wanted to use virtual reality for corpse practice to prepare for the experience due to anxiety surrounding not only the performance but also the graphic and emotional nature. working with a corpse.

“It’s like processing the experience when you’re also supposed to be playing,” he said.

In this way, virtual reality can serve as a useful form of rehearsal for students, giving them some form of “experience” in scenarios such as cadaver labs and patient encounters. This can give students a much-needed opportunity to practice and build their confidence.

VR technology could revolutionize the way medical techniques are shared across the world, as doctors could observe live surgery through VR in addition to creating simulations of case study scenarios. Physicians could research methods in this way to improve patient outcomes as well.

For students, Heinz considers virtual reality to be the most useful in the context of studying anatomy, so far. He said virtual reality is perfect for simulating cadaver dissections and even offers the professor the ability to annotate parts of a cadaver that can be very difficult to reach on a real body.

However, the use of VR technology raises significant concerns. Heinz noted that he doesn’t see virtual reality completely replacing in-person cadaver dissection or standardized patient encounters, in part because students need to be able to cite those “real-life” experiences when applying for residencies and jobs to feel competitive.

“They worry about feeling like you’ve never worked with a corpse, like how you feel about other people,” he says.

Virtual reality also presents an accessibility problem in the form of motion sickness, according to Heinz. Some students are more sensitive to the current limitations of image distortion and frame rate in virtual reality, resulting in motion sickness when using this equipment.

“If your performance is low and you get a reduced frame rate…it’s going to make almost everyone sick,” he said. He also noted that forced perspective scenarios using a 360-degree camera can have a similar effect.

Additionally, researchers are concerned about the limitations of virtual reality in medical education in terms of critical skills like group work or communication skills with patients. Health care settings are increasingly collaborative and patient care involves the patient in that team more than ever before, so it makes sense that these skills should be a priority in medical training.

Overall, Heinz sees VR technology as a useful addition to existing methods in health science education, but it certainly won’t replace traditional methods anytime soon.

Virtual reality has the potential to help send medical students and healthcare professionals into healthcare settings with more confidence and a broader set of clinical experiences than is always possible. We just need to make sure they can communicate effectively along the way. The answer to this may be to integrate group interaction into virtual reality or to devote more time to practicing communication in the classroom, while virtual reality can play a greater role in teaching time. ‘study.

Would you like Allison to continue on this topic or explore something specific? Contact her at [email protected] with questions, comments or story ideas.

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