Pre-Surgical training system
Medical education has undergone major changes along the years. Until the mid 19th-century, academic medicine was based on the observation of facts; possible treatments were derived from this observation. Currently, the teaching of Medicine involves the continuous search for new methods to accommodate novel requirements. Parallel to this search, one of the biggest challenges for the teaching of Medicine is the evolution of technology. In surgery, for example, the advent of laparoscopic techniques has translated into the need for abilities that are quite different than those applied in conventional procedures, and the training of surgeons has relied increasingly more on virtural reality (VR) tools.
Considering this context, the objectives of the present work were to develop a VR environment for the teaching of surgery at the undergraduate level, to reflect on the impact of this type of tool for the education of medical students and to consider the feasibility of establishing a graduate program focused on the development VR environments. For that, a multidisciplinary team was formed, and a pre, trans, and postsurgical VR environment was developed. This environment allows students who have never been in contact with a surgical unit to complete various tasks relating to the performance of a thoracotomy and to learn about the rules and routines associated with a surgical unit. A preliminary assessment with 15 medical students and 12 professionals (five physicians, five computer scientits, and two education specialists) showed that both these groups considered the overall virtual experience as satisfactory or very satisfactory (scores 7-9 in a 10-point scale). The VR environment developed in this study will serve as a basis for other applications, such as additional surgical modules to replace the thoracotomy module. The environment may also be adapted for the training of other target publics, such as nurses or nursing studens, nursing assistants or others. Despite the complexities associated with the development of VR tools, the undeniable need to provide students with more opportunities for training, the inexorable ingrowth of technology into medicine, and the importance of integrating all this into an opportunity for education, lead to the conclusion that this project was successful and that the research line established with the present work is extremely promising.
The pictures below show the virtual environment created to the project.