The VR app also provided analytics. If students struggle with a procedure, faculty members are notified on a web-based dashboard. “Faculty can talk to students about how they can do better, and if needed, they can share their screen to show them something,” she says.
Today, students pursuing an associate degree can learn nearly 70 skills, including hand hygiene and inserting an IV. They can also run AI-powered VR simulations in which they give patient exams and assess patients’ health. The program also created a community assessment in VR, where students can interview avatars in a neighborhood and learn what healthcare services they need.
“Students are much better at skills because they’ve practiced 1,000 times at home,” Elliott says.
Virtual Reality Brings Cadavers to the Medical Students
While the medical school still has human cadavers for students to inspect, they no longer dissect cadavers as part of the curriculum; they use VR and AR instead, says Greg Dorsainville, manager of immersive computing at the medical school’s Institute for Innovations in Medical Education.
“In the past, students were in the anatomy lab at all hours of the night examining real cadavers,” he says. “Now, if they are learning about the physiology of the heart, for example, they still go to the lab and see examples of the heart. But we want them to have anytime, anywhere access. So, now they can go home and see digitized versions of the heart, animations and other resources.”
DISCOVER: Musinah Morris is leading Morehouse College into the metaverse.
Dorsainville has taken photos of real-life cadavers and, using photogrammetry software, stitched the photos together so students can see the human body in 3D through VR.
Students can also view 3D models of the brain and other body parts as if they are standing inside them. That allows them to better visualize the body, Dorsainville says.
“VR makes a big difference for the anatomy because it provides you the spatial relationships,” Dorsainville says. Some VR applications work directly on VR headsets. Other VR apps that are graphics-intensive require both a VR headset and a computer with a dedicated GPU chip, he says.
The medical school has 20 VR headsets on campus, including the Lenovo Varjo, Oculus Quest 2 and HTC Vive. But it also makes sure students can go home and access the VR experiences and 3D models on other devices, such as computers, tablets and smartphones.
“We’ve got to meet our learners where they are,” Dorsainville says.