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Medical training is expensive, complex, and has little margin for error. So experts are turning their attention to technologies that make medical training safer and more cost-effective. One particularly exciting and rapidly advancing area of medical training is VR. Here we look at how Virtual Reality medical training could transform the way doctors learn vital on-the-job skills.

Virtual Reality surgical training

In a recent blog post ‘Could VR training work for your industry?’, we talked about the pioneering work of Shafi Ahmed, a British surgeon who is championing the use of Virtual Reality in surgical training. Using multiple cameras, he has captured complex surgeries, which trainees can view in an immersive VR setting.

Virtual Reality Medical Training - Absorb

Now he thinks Virtual Reality could help solve the global shortage of trained surgeons. He told last year’s Singularity Hub Exponential Medicine Summit that the number of trained surgeons would have to double to serve the needs of basic surgical care for the developing world by 2030. The solution, according to Dr. Ahmed, is to train thousands of surgeons simultaneously in Virtual Reality.

He said: “Forget one-to-one. My idea is one to many. I want to share knowledge with the masses.”

Virtual Reality emergency medical training

A recent blog post, published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine, highlighted the possible benefits of using VR for emergency medical training. One of the major benefits, they argue, is the fact that the simulations are so real that trainees experience genuine stress reactions.

Head motion is tracked to give the feeling of ‘looking around’ the virtual world, and 3D audio is also simulated, to fully immerse the user in the environment. “Rationality is overridden,” says the writer, “and a sensation of genuine presence in the virtual world is experienced.”

“Having to put on a performance in the presence of heightened emotional and physiological states…is most useful to the trainee the next time they are in a real resuscitation room managing a real crashing patient. When deliberately increasing stress levels…VR will be vastly superior to traditional [simulation training].”

The writer also highlights the fact that VR equipment is becoming increasingly affordable, lighter, and can even be linked to a smartphone. Gone are the days of VR being seen as pie-in-the-sky futurism. It’s a reality that’s here to stay.

Virtual x-ray vision: Using VR to look inside the body

Virtual Reality medical training could be used to familiarise student doctors with the internal structure of the body, from human scale down to molecular level. Paediatric Radiologist Frandics Chan told Stanford Medical of the potential benefits of switching from 3D modelling to VR: “When you print an anatomical model, you can cut it open once and that’s it. In Virtual Reality, you can put it back together, cut it again in a different place and magnify it with the flick of your hand.”

Medical Training Magazine offers a real-world example of VR modelling in action. They report that one US patient was born was with a complex heart defect that was difficult to assess using traditional methods. When she needed a valve replacement, surgeon Katsuhide Maeda used a combination of CT scanning, 3D modelling and virtual reality to create an interactive map of the patient’s heart, lungs and chest cavity. Doctors could analyse the patient’s anatomy from new angles, enabling them to perform a successful operation in December 2016.

About us

Absorb Reality is a Virtual Reality training provider based in Guildford. We use the latest technology to create VR training programmes for organisations across a wide range of sectors. Talk to us about your needs, and we will help you to develop a learning and development programme that is both cost-effective and attuned to your goals. Get in touch with our Virtual Reality training experts to find out how we could help you develop a cutting-edge training programme.