School of Medicine Brings Virtual Reality Training to the Classroom for Medical Students

October 11, 2022 by

Dr. Kathryn Mutter, Kevin Livingston, and Dr. Margaret Sande with virtual reality

By David Moody, Director, Health Sciences Library IT
Originally published by the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Thanks to $54,973 in seed funding awarded by the Jefferson Trust, an inspiring UVA Health team is investigating an innovative training tool for medical students and clinicians: Virtual reality (VR) will be included in the 2023 UVA School of Medicine Internship Readiness Program for fourth-year medical students, filling an educational gap in a vital part of student training.

The gap lies between fourth-year medical students’ didactic and simulation training and their actual performance of the task, which is traditionally filled through observation of live cases at the bedside, or in procedural or operating rooms. However, many factors, including both the trainees’ inability to clearly see what the attending physician sees and the lack of time in the moment to repeat the action until they understand it, mean that VR, with its immersive nature, allows learners to grow accustomed to more authentic clinical scenarios without compromising patient safety while also offering fewer restrictions on time or place.

The asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 further illuminated both the impracticality and the dangers of medical student live-case observances for training purposes, which is problematic given that medical live-case observances are considered essential to the learning process — and why VR has proven helpful.

The proposed VR educational model offers trainees a better view of both the procedure itself and the attendant diagnostic screens during their first-person/second-person hybrid observance experience. In addition, learning aids, such as anatomical models and other visual guides that are not typically available in live observances, are available within the VR training space, furthering students’ comprehension of the procedure.

David Moody, Kathyrn Mutter, Kevin Livingston, Margaret Sande

David Moody, Director, Health Sciences Library IT; Dr. Kathryn Mutter, Associate Professor; Kevin Livingston, UVA Medical Student; Dr. Margaret Sande, Associate Professor (lt to rt)

In addition to Kathryn Mutter, MD, Associate Professor; Kevin Livingstone, student, School of Medicine; Margaret Sande, MD, Associate Professor; and David Moody, Director, Health Sciences Library IT; other team members include Samuel Beishline, Physician Associate – Certified, Radiology; and Lauren Smaltz, Senior Resident, Emergency Medicine.

Congratulations to all on the successful grant application, and best of luck with research in the coming year!

Filed Under: Education