Making reality virtual: the school of osteopathy goes high-tech to train future doctors | Putnam News


The scene in 9-year-old Paulo Lopes-Silva’s room in the hospital was chaotic.

“I feel really dizzy again,” he said.

“Let’s go, let’s get him down,” said a doctor. “Just lay down for me, okay?”

Monitors continued to beep in the background as doctors worked to get Paulo into stable condition. As he began to lie down, he lost consciousness.

“Nurse Becky, can you start CPR?” asked another doctor.

“You’re hurting him,” Paulo’s mother said. “What are you doing to her?”

There was cross chatter in the room as one doctor began charging the defibrillator and another spoke with the frantic mother. Once Paulo’s condition stabilized, an observer could be heard saying, “Good job, guys.” Applause filled the room. The doctors took off their headphones and the patient “disappeared”.

The crisis was over—for now.






Connor McKinney, third-year student at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, shows off one of the virtual reality headsets used in the demonstration of using virtual reality as an educational tool for medical students at Embassy Suites in Charleston January 28.




At the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Charleston, students and staff at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine simulated a young boy who passed out while playing football. But unlike other simulations that use mannequins, this one was virtual reality.

A moderator sat behind a laptop to select the patient’s and mother’s responses while the students worked on the simulation.

In recent years, the chatter around virtual reality has increased as the technology has become more widely available. From video games and movies to the metaverse, virtual reality has served as an escape for people looking to immerse themselves in technology. Now the virtual reality space has come to the classrooms of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) to train the doctors of tomorrow.

The school has purchased 22 Oculus headsets, a three-year subscription to SimX, a virtual reality medical simulator, and they have access to 28 unique cases that they can run through. Technology takes virtual learning to a whole new level.

With SimX software, students can collaborate on a variety of scenarios in different environments – from anywhere in the world. Students are responsible for every step of cases by performing procedures, requesting technicians and medications and are even required to speak with the patient and their family.







Dr. James Nemitz

Nemitz




“It’s just another way to educate a medical student,” said Dr. James Nemitz, president of WVSOM. “It’s about giving them real-life experiences so, first, they can be exposed to that experience, but also practice that experience.”

The school of osteopathy has a simulation center with 24 fully equipped examination rooms and more than 20 manikin simulators. Some manikins are high tech and can simulate heartbeats and breathing, while others are for simple clinical training.

According to Jenny Patton, WVSOM’s electronic health records manager, a typical adult manikin costs around $75,000, while an Oculus headset costs just $299 and offers the ability to practice from anywhere.

“There’s a lot of VR simulation that we could never do with mannequin simulation,” Patton said. “The simulation of mannequins, I do not advise against them because I also work with simulations of mannequins. It is simply an essential additional tool that we can use remotely. »







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West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine sophomore Drew Green looks at the screen before helping demonstrate the use of virtual reality as an educational tool for medical students.




In March, the school will do a simulation that starts on a dummy and then moves to VR simulation – as close to real life as possible. But Patton said as good as they are, it’s important to understand that the trainings are meant to prepare students for clinical rotations — not to replace real-world experience.

“We’re osteopaths, we’re practical, and that’s not going away. It’s the vanguard of our training,” Patton said. “The whole thing with this is patient safety.”

The WVSOM students have two years of working on the books before they begin their rotations across the state, and they believe the simulations will help their peers prepare for the rotations.







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Above: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine third-year students Maher Shammaa, left, and Anne Reis demonstrate the use of virtual reality as an educational tool for medical students at the Embassy Suites in Charleston on January 28. left: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Third-year medical student Connor McKinney shows off one of the virtual reality headsets used in the demonstration of using virtual reality as an educational tool for medical students at Embassy Suites in Charleston on January 28.




“I think the biggest thing it can offer is the peace of mind it’s going to give a sophomore and even a freshman,” said WVSOM fourth-year student Alina Broton.

Last year, freshmen and sophomores completed 11 manikin simulations before beginning their clinical rotations, and WVSOM’s goal is to provide these students with two to four VR simulation labs from the ‘next year. In addition to their simulation training, students will still have hundreds of hours of book work.

“What’s happened in medical education is that now you still have the book learning and the labs, but now you have the simulations, which are preparatory to then seeing real patients,” said Nemitz. “And I think that’s the power of it. And then the fact that you can practice things.

As students are excited about the opportunities offered by virtual reality and SimX, they are adapting to the new technology.

“I think the hardest part is just adapting to VR. It’s not even like it’s a hard thing, but it’s just something different,” said Patrick Kane , sophomore at WVSOM.

Broton echoed that sentiment, saying the controllers were his biggest adjustment, but not knowing which buttons to press to administer a shot wasn’t a problem when his time came for the demo.







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Drew Green, a sophomore at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, helps demonstrate the use of virtual reality as an educational tool for medical students at the Embassy Suites in Charleston Jan. 28.




“If you’re doing a simulation or, like, meeting a patient in person, for example, I just grab that and you pretend to do it. Whereas, like here, you’re actually administering it to make it count,” Broton said.

It’s not just students working on VR implementation issues. Professors also say they are crippled by SimX’s inability to allow personalized responses from certain characters in the simulation.

“The biggest complaint I have right now is the dialogue,” Patton said. “Who knows what students are going to ask in the middle of an exam or in the middle of a triage where they limit dialogue, and sometimes that makes it difficult to process the case.”

Patton said she’s been working with SimX to fix the issue, and she’s hoping she’ll eventually be able to type the characters’ responses into a text box.

Patton has been at WVSOM for 11 years. When she was first hired, she was asked to develop and integrate electronic health records training into the school. It took two years for the program to be fully integrated, but she doesn’t expect VR to take that long.







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West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine sophomores Manali Shah, left, and Patrick Kane demonstrate the use of virtual reality as an educational tool for medical students at the Embassy Suites in Charleston on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 .




“In the next year of the program, I think we can be fully integrated,” Patton said. “Not so much required, but where teachers are going to integrate it into their course.”

While there are still issues to work out, students and faculty remain excited to have more practice before and during clinical rotations.

“I don’t just study from a book. Like, I deal with real people. I talk to real patients. I order real drugs, from labs,” Broton said. “So I think that’s going to really help with that element, like the peace of mind and the confidence that those students will have to move into the clinical years.”

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