Virtual reality transforms how medical students are taught

RSCI has developed a new VR application

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has developed the world’s first fully interactive virtual reality medical training simulator, allowing users simulate emergency room management of a patient following a road traffic accident. 

The RCSI VR Medical Training Sim app puts medical professionals and trainees in the shoes of the Emergency Department trauma team leader where they must assess the patient, make life or death decisions in real time and perform life-saving operative procedures as a surgeon would in a real emergency room.

 

Developed in conjunction with Immersive Education VR, the app has been released to the public on the Oculus Virtual Reality platform (Samsung Gear VR). The virtual reality (VR) app is focussed on providing both undergraduate medical students and post-graduate medical and surgical trainees with new learning opportunities.

RCSI has become the first higher education institution in the world to release a VR surgical training application on the publicly available platform, furthering its commitment to exploring new technologies to enhance education. This new technology makes simulated training available in a mobile form, making it more accessible and affordable for trainees when access to high-end surgical simulators is not possible. The app has had over 65,000 downloads since it previewed on the Samsung Gear VR app store in May 2016.

Commenting on the launch of the RCSI VR Medical Training Sim app, Donncha Ryan, Learning Technology Manager, RCSI said; “Virtual reality is the most radical technological change we’ve seen since the mobile phone and the opportunities it poses for education are vast. This app gives surgical trainees a lasting memory of a real immersive trauma room experience, which is much more valuable than just learning about it in a classroom.”  

“The RCSI VR Medical Training Sim app is accessible, affordable and reliable and the plan for RCSI is to make this technology available to surgical trainees throughout Ireland to enhance their skills and learning experiences. Because of the accessibility and affordability, the benefits of the technology go beyond training in Ireland. We see real opportunities for surgical training in places with limited resources such as sub-Saharan Africa where RCSI works in partnership the COSECSA surgical training programme.” 

Professor Oscar Traynor, Director of the National Surgical Training Centre, RCSI said; “This is the first fully interactive medical training simulator in the world which has been made publically available and we are very excited about the potential it holds for future surgeons. Giving trainees the opportunity to practice commonly encountered life or death procedures outside of a clinical environment will help ensure optimum patient safety and outcomes when it comes to performing such surgeries in real-life. The students are given the opportunity to experience highly realistic clinical scenarios, make critical decisions and act on those decisions. Ultimately the VR app will better prepare them for real world experiences and we’re proud that RCSI is the first institution in the world offering this type of training to our students.”