Making the Virtual a Reality During a Pandemic: Improving Learning Opportunities in Medical Education Through Virtual Reality Simulation. (1090-004254) (Research Abstract Oral: Simulation Methodology)
Session Type: Research Abstracts (Completed Studies)
The Oxford physician, William Osler, was the first to be credited with taking medical students out of the lecture theatre and to the bedside(1). However, the COVID-19 pandemic has not just taken medical students out of lectures but also away from the bedside. This situation threatens to compromise learning quantity and quality and ultimately the competencies of future graduating doctors. Virtual Reality Simulation (VRS) can provide students with a computer-generated environment where users interact with virtual surroundings and patients in any location(2). To mitigate this gap in clinical experiences during the initial phases of the pandemic we created an education package using VRS for medical students at the University of Oxford. Our research questions were: 1) Could VRS provide meaningful learning under these adverse conditions? 2) Could we elicit strengths and weaknesses of virtual simulation in medical learning by examining VRS-based learning under these extreme conditions?
The Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) VRS platform offers a library of standardized medical emergencies. The learner interacts with and manages an acutely unwell patient. Learning objectives are specified for each scenario with a score calculated and explained the end. We chose to use two-dimensional delivery to improve accessibility to students self-isolating at home. Access to VRS was offered to all clinical medical students at Oxford Medical School. Scenarios were sorted into groups of virtual patients based on presenting features, and groups were released on a weekly schedule. Each group of scenarios was accompanied by didactic learning resources in the medical school’s online repository, including podcasts and lecture notes. Data was collected (using built in OMS metrics and online questionnaires) with students’ consent on: · number of scenarios accessed · performance score on each simulation · student perceptions of learning using VRS
In total, 213 students expressed an interest in accessing the VRS platform. 45 of the 213 accessed the scenarios (50% first year students). The students accessed 432 scenarios. Average scores on all first attempts of scenarios was 77%; second attempts 82% and third attempts 99%. Feedback from questionnaire: “I like…the ‘real’ feel of talking to the patient, informing next of kin….it surprised me how real my patient feels.” “I do find it quite a refreshing and different way of approaching the scenarios, and have really enjoyed it.” “They are incredibly useful…..I much prefer doing them on a computer screen than in 3D. It does make for a different way of revising.”
The high initial response rate suggested student interest and engagement. The low (21%) conversion rate to accessing the VRS platform may be explained by initial technical issues and the voluntary nature of the project. The quantitative data shows the importance of repetition in improving learning. This study reveals some strengths of VRS: · it requires few faculty resources · it requires only basic equipment, available to students at home. · It can be accessed at the learner’s convenience Participation may improve with incorporation into the medical school curriculum. Lower usage among the final year medical students may be explained by the fact that they were more likely to be volunteering in clinical and research settings and also the early commencement of official clinical duties due to COVID-19. Overall the VRS platform allowed the delivery of a rapid response to fill a gap in clinical education. The next phase of this project will be to provide live tutor-supported debrief.