How virtual reality is reshaping the way we train medical students

Medical education, after years of sticking to a tried-and-true formula of lectures, exams and rotations, is racing to catch up with technological innovations that are reshaping the way we train nurses and doctors in the U.S., the New York Times reported Oct. 31. Virtual reality (VR) and high-fidelity simulations are leading the charge.

“The healthcare delivery system is changing every day,” Marc Triola, director of NYU Langone’s Institute for Innovations in Medical Education, told the Times. “And our medical education system has been lagging.”

Triola called the disparity between medical education and real-world care “a chasm”—one that medical educators are desperate to close.

The Times wrote schools are shifting their attention to VR solutions and high-tech mannequins that can breathe, sweat and respond to medication just like real patients. From behind a one-way mirror, nursing professors at Clemson University adjust the vitals of $100,000 fake patients to simulate diabetes and neuropathy. At the University of California Riverside School of Medicine, students use VR goggles to call up 3-foot images of hearts and probe them with a controller.

One student said the technology speeds up her learning process, since it can be hard to picture all 360 degrees of a human heart from a textbook explanation.

Not all reform is tech-related, though. At Clemson, masters students spend time at rural clinics to expose them to “unscripted human interaction” with patients, and other students around the country serve regular shifts in ambulances to gain “a more complete picture” of patient life.

Read the full report from the Times below: