Medical education going digital, virtual, and virtual reality (US/UK)

How do you educate medical and nursing students when class is no longer in session? What about clinical training when hospitals are restricted due to COVID? It’s no surprise that remote learning and pre-recorded classes plus active lecturer-student discussions on Zoom (or more secure video meeting platforms) in the spring filled the gap of the first two years of med school, which are primarily tied to class instruction. For incoming and resuming classes, most have a mix of online and in-person classes, depending on school location. Nursing schools faced and resolved similar situations.

But what happens in the second two years, when lectures mix with in-person clinical learning? Most schools pulled students from clinical work in the spring, but some, like Mount Sinai in New York, continued. The University of Houston has developed some other approaches. Their medical school, starting this year, was co-founded with insurance payer Humana as part of the Humana Integrated Health Systems Science Institute. Nursing school students who would typically join nurses on house calls shadowed these nurses on virtual visits as part of their clinical training. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is also looking at ways to integrate telehealth into medical school curricula, and is publishing a guide this fall detailing core competencies around telemedicine.  FierceHealthcare

Virtual reality (VR) is providing a more interactive training environment for clinicians with realistic scenarios and feedback. Computer simulations have been common for years in specialty surgery and diagnostics. With reductions in pricing on headsets like the Oculus Rift and Quest, several companies are introducing a different kind of virtual visit, one in a realistic clinic setting, simulating a pressured situation. These come complete with interaction between doctors, nurses, and other clinicians, can be ‘multi-player’, and provide performance analysis/feedback. This Editor noted Oxford Medical Simulation’s work with NHS England in Wessex on treatment for diabetic emergencies [News Roundup, TTA 3 Apr 19] and another pilot at OxSTaR (Oxford Simulation, Teaching and Research) center [News Roundup, TTA 8 Aug 19]. In surgery, Southern Methodist University (which has a leading graduate school for video game design), Virti, and Medical Realities (the latter two UK firms) have pioneered training in US, UK, and Europe plus specialized trainings for surgeons in Africa replicating conditions faced in ORs there. The trainings not only teach procedure, but reduce surgeon and fellow clinician stress. Digital Trends

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