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Med Students Get Training In Second Life Hospitals 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-the-virtual-kidney-high-score dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Discover Magazine reports that although medical simulations have been around for a long time, medical schools like Imperial College London are starting to use virtual hospitals in Second Life so students can learn their way around an O.R. before they enter the real thing. The students can also test their knowledge in the Virtual Respiratory Ward by interviewing patient avatars, ordering tests, diagnosing problems, and recommending treatment. 'The real innovation in SL clinical simulations is that they bring people together in a clinical space — you are standing next to an avatar who is a real patient, and the doctor avatar to your right is a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and the nurse to your left is at the University of Pennsylvania hospital,' says John Lester, the Education and Healthcare Market Developer at Linden Labs. The most significant benefit of SL training may be the cost. Real-life training facilities require thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars to build and maintain, while SL simulation rooms can be created for minimal costs, and accessed from anywhere in the world for the price of an internet connection. SL can also expose students to situations that a standard academic program can't duplicate: 'You can take risks that aren't safe in the real world and teach more complex subjects in three dimensions,' says Colleen Lin. 'When you're resuscitating a dummy in real life, it looks like a dummy. But you can program an avatar to look like it's choking or having a heart attack, and it looks more real to the student responsible for resuscitating it.'"
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Med Students Get Training In Second Life Hospitals

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  • by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:42AM (#28747655) Journal

    I am not a doctor but I have trained as on in Second Life.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:14AM (#28747837)
      And if you want to become a pathologist, you can always subscribe Second Death.
      • by Larryish (1215510)

        SL can also expose students to situations that a standard academic program can't duplicate:

        Like flying penises.

    • by dziban303 (540095)
      People still play Second Life? Maybe they should get, ya know, a First Life.
    • How many people would feel comforted knowing that the resident assigned to them has practiced mainly in a virtual reality setting? There's no substitute for sitting at someone's bedside, taking their hand, feeling their pulse, and looking at their face for signs of distress. You can't avoid human contact at some point. You are going to have to go in that real, physical room and come face to face with a real, physical person who is perhaps suffering, giving off vibes of distress and pain, or crumping and
      • How many people would feel comforted knowing that the resident assigned to them has practiced mainly in a virtual reality setting?

        If you take a commercial flight it is quite possible that the first officer is flying that type of aircraft for the first time after training on simulators.

        Thanks mostly to work done by NASA in the 1960s aircraft simulators offer a high fidelity training environment, but second life is one way in which the simulation of human interaction can be improved.

        My nephew had an operation a couple of days ago. His family were quite upset that he was seen by three groups of students in the two hours before the pr

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dragonslicer (991472)

        There's no substitute for sitting at someone's bedside, taking their hand, feeling their pulse, and looking at their face for signs of distress.

        No, but simulations are good supporting experience, especially if you work on a simulator, and therefore know the routine basics, before doing your live training. You won't get residents that spent their entire internship in simulations, but you'll probably get interns that at least got some basic simulator experience during medical school.

      • There's no substitute for sitting at someone's bedside, taking their hand, feeling their pulse, and looking at their face for signs of distress.

        It's true, but I've now learned that it's wrong to break into strangers houses.

  • by irregular_hero (444800) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:48AM (#28747683)

    This should come in handy for doctors trained this way when a blue, eight-foot tall hermaphroditic troll shows up at a hospital emergency room complaining of chest pains.

  • by maudface (1313935)

    Despite being incredibly skeptical of such substitutes for a first life this does seem like a ridiculously good idea for filling such a gap in education given what a leap it must be between classroom knowledge and actually dealing with real world patients.

    I must admit that I'm just utterly amazed that someone's actually thought of a way to use second life that isn't utterly futile and useless.

    • by thedonger (1317951) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:06AM (#28747795)

      Wait a minute...How does a simulation with real doctors, nurses, and patients in real facilities make it cheaper? The patient has to be in a hospital with all those people around, anyway, right?

      Personally, I have never been a fan of simulation. The statement:

      You can take risks that aren't safe in the real world and teach more complex subjects in three dimensions

      doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If we all tried to be like Dr. House on the same-named television show we'd all have many, many dead patients.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mikael (484)

        To get the dummies to physically appear to react to the medical conditions that they are simulating requires special effects technology. To simulate the physical behavior in a virtual world just requires some software programming.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Very realistic dummies (ie other med students) are very easy to come by in the real world.

        • Have you seen SL's graphics? It'd make more sense to use a FPS engine if they want something that looks good and runs well, not that piece of shit.
          • FPS engines don't support instant dynamic content and instant scriptability for objects while actually being in-world. SL does, and that's why it looks the way it looks. Actual games can get away with preset and fixed content in a level, SL doesn't work that way.

            • The engines themselves don't, of course. But it should be trivial to create a program that shows a med ward, create an authoring tool for the trainer to create medical situations on the fly and push the trainees into it. I mean, it's done for games, why can't it be done for more "sensible" applications?

        • Not dummies. Actors! In Münster in Germany, there is a nice teaching hospital, that has nothing but actors as patients. The actors can simulate many many things, and they rate the doctors and nurses's behavior, friendliness, etc.

          From a reportage that my brother did, I know that they are very successful. Patients feel much better treated by people coming from this training.

          Of course, operations are not performed on them. ^^ But small things that are done without narcosis can also be simulated with trick

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by greenbird (859670) *

        Personally, I have never been a fan of simulation.

        You've obviously never been in the military or been trained to deal with stressful, life or death situations. Or at least I hope you haven't. If you have, you need to change professions immediately. Simulations are absolutely critical to such training and the more realistic the better. Simulations can recreate and/or demonstrate the confusion and chaos that reigns in situations like that and helps tremendously in dealing with it when those situations occur for real. Actually simulations and role playing is

        • I work in air traffic control and simulation is also an important function of our systems. It works well because the simulator is just the operational system running in a different mode. From the POV of the operator they interact with the system the same way. The most important factor is that the people who run the simulation take it very seriously.

          Once when I was at the pool with my family a woman approached us and said she was going to simulate drowning, and asked us not to get involved. The first aid p
          • by greenbird (859670) *

            I have a suspicion that second life simulation may turn into a "tick the box" test. Just get it done. You know the rules and they don't really relate to reality.

            Then you need better people running the simulations. When I was in the service I knew the guy who basically ran the game simulations for 5 Corps in Europe. They were running a Corp level miniature simulation with people from 7th Corps playing the OpFor. My friend, who was running the sim noticed the NATO commanders were all keeping their air defense units way too far back from contact. About 20 minutes later a Regiment of Hinds (Soviet attack helicopters) came rolling over a hill and took out about 80% of a

            • To clarify: the ATC simulations are run very professionally. My point was that the success of a simulation generally depends on how seriously it is taken by the managers and participants. At one extreme this medical thing could be like the joke online training courses I sometimes have to do.
              • To make people take a sim serious, they have to be able to take it serious in the first place. They have to see that there is a benefit in it for them. If it is generally seen as a joke and nuisance (and let's be blunt, that SL sim has a great chance to be seen like that), they will not participate meaningfully.

                An example. I, too, spent some time in the military, with conscripts being a huge part of the sim. It would have been necessary to give them a reason to take it serious, because the way it was done h

            • That reminds me of this story:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002 [wikipedia.org]

      • I believe the program you refer to is title 'House M.D.'
      • Wait a minute...How does a simulation with real doctors, nurses, and patients in real facilities make it cheaper?

        My first thought was that it gives students a wider range of experiences before beginning their internship, and you don't have to pay to send the students a thousand miles away.

      • by vertinox (846076)

        Wait a minute...How does a simulation with real doctors, nurses, and patients in real facilities make it cheaper? The patient has to be in a hospital with all those people around, anyway, right?

        IAMAMS (I am not a med studen) but I am indirectly familiar with the process.

        I'm not sure if you are familiar with med school, but the only training most surgeons get before they get to assist with a surgery is of course cadavers.

        Sure its great hands on, but the key problem is that they are dead so any training has n

    • The avatars that are playing patients are responding in real time from a script (using voice chat), the test results come back in real time (minutes to days later) and the monitoring instruments are real time. If Dr. Disaster orders the wrong stuff, his patient may die on him in real time ... and he can fill out the paperwork.

      It's next-best thing to having the virtual reality simulators or actors playing patients.

      • It's next-best thing to having the virtual reality simulators or actors playing patients.

        Exactly. So since you still have to have real people behind the avatars responding why on earth settle for the "next best thing" and actually go for the best thing? Its better for training, easier for the actors to participate in. True it does not involve computers so it isn't as "cool" as SL but I can see no pedagogical benefits from using SL.

    • The avatars look nothing like real humans. This would be more like a "choose your own adventure" game.

      Do you have a cough?
      Yes.
      Is it dry, whooping, etc, etc, etc ... ?

      I had pneumonia two years ago. When I went to the doctor he had one of their interns come in so she could listen to what early pneumonia sounded like in different parts of the chest and whether I was inhaling or exhaling.

      This sounds more like trying to train marksmanship with Halo. The game interface is completely different from what you'll enc

    • Right. Because you never ever see a gaggle of students following a doctor on his rounds, do you?
    • Thats possible but I thought of a counter example. I have in my inbox two emails from some automated training system for health and safety courses which every employee has to complete. The idea is that the HSE manager has to show that every employee has completed the induction. Everybody gets hassled with emails until they follow a link and click through a set of induction pages. When they get to the end they are marked in a database. HSE obligations are satisfied and nothing is actually learnt.
  • by path0$ (1600175) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:52AM (#28747705)

    The inevitable dialogue between totally overworked surgeons:

    "Oh well that was his liver I just cut open not the stomach... let's reset this"

    *awkward silence*

    "Wait... Oh shit, well let's just tell his family there were some... unexpected complications right?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:59AM (#28747747)

    I can just see it now.

    Doctor: My god, the patient's heart is lagging!

    Nurse: Doctor! What are you talking about?! He's going into cardiac arrest!

    Doctor: Nurse, check the Monster (tm) power cable on the heart rate monitor. I think I got the electron directionality device wrong.

    Nurse: He needs to be defibrillated! Hurry!

    Doctor: Screw that! I'm not going to pay a micro-transaction fee for such a crappy add-on!

    Machine: beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

  • Great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:59AM (#28747749)

    So now when I feel sick I go to a SL hospital and have a real doc diagnose me.

    "That chest pain you describe, is it burning? Yes... And it radiates into your left arm... ok... Say, do you feel dizzy or have a strange taste in your mouth? Hello? ... HELLO? Still there?"

    • by Seumas (6865)

      I would definitely want to know if this was part of the training for any medical professional that tended to me so that I could leave and find someone else.

      • I would definitely want to know if this was part of the training for any medical professional that tended to me so that I could leave and find someone else.

        Why? Would you refuse to have CPR from someone who had trained on dummies because, you know, dummies aren't people? What is it about the idea of having virtual-world computer training as part of a complete medical curriculum that bothers people so much?

    • No. You go there with imaginary diseases. ^^

  • by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @10:59AM (#28747751) Homepage

    Having seen several second life simulators/training sessions, I have to keep asking "Why?"

    The benefit is that it is semi-standard and semi-cheap to do, and connects people easily.

    But, the effort to create something useful for teaching is great. The benefits are minimal. The controls are frustrating and resemble nothing in real life.

    If you really want to teach something well, you're better off creating your own instructional design and simulation. 3-D tools are cheap now.

    • "Anne, Anne - are you all right?".
    • by Kreigaffe (765218)

      Because Linden has one hell of a PR machine, basically. Throw futuristic buzzwords in, sprinkle liberally with perverts and furries and flying dongs.. you're left with a lot of people writing for a lot of business and trade mags about how next-gen SL is, how that sort of interaction is the future of (insert legit subject here), and vigorously defending those viewpoints so nobody suspects they actually are perverts or furries or flying dongs. We all know they actually are, though.

      • I don't think you've actually been in SL recently, or at all.

        I mean, "flying dongs", come on. That was pretty much of a one time trolling event, and not nothing normal, but roughly equivalent to people posting ASCII art of goatse on slashdot. I've only actually seen it on youtube and never seen it in person, despite logging in almost every day for 3 years.

        • I think you're the one who hasn't been in SL for a while. It is still rampant with flying dongs, facehumping creatures, and 6-foot fox-like creatures with strap-ons. Fortunately, there are easy controls to stop that from happening if you shell out the $300/month plus upfront costs to get your own chunk of land. My worry is that despite being user-designed and 3-d Second Life is nothing like the real world. Much like any chatroom or forum, people on SL will say or do anything without fear of repercussions b
          • Like I said, I've been in SL for about 3 years, logging in mostly every day. I mostly hang out in Luskwood.

            We've got a large staff of moderators (of which I'm one) that ensure we don't have "flying dongs" (never seen one actually), or "6-foot fox-like creatures with strap-ons" (actually I am a 6 foot fox-like creature, but it's a PG area, so we don't allow strap-ons or anything of the sort).

            I've not found it necessary to pay for my own sim. Decent places in SL can be found if you look around a bit. It's jus

            • by Kreigaffe (765218)

              Mkay, so you fall under the furry-trumpeting-the-praises-of-SL category, then. You wouldn't happen to be the guy with the fox-headed avatar I've seen pictures of in business mags?

              The only reason I rant against SL is because it's constantly paraded around as something it's not.

              It's a social sandbox. Period end of story. There's nothing WRONG with a social sandbox, but after years now of buzz-heavy articles about how it's so next-gen and how it is the future of online interaction and businesses would be fo

              • Mkay, so you fall under the furry-trumpeting-the-praises-of-SL category, then. You wouldn't happen to be the guy with the fox-headed avatar I've seen pictures of in business mags?

                Doubtful, unless the fox was blue and wearing a Debian shirt, or futuristic glowing armor.

                I'm mostly involved in scripting and modding the SL viewer. I doubt business mags would find me interesting as I don't do anything business related.

                SL is just a 3D freeform RP chat room. Don't make it out to be more than it is and there's no p

          • by waitd (448356)

            Actualy Lindon has gone even futher in the last week to keep you safe from the flying dongs, facehumping creatures, and 6-foot fox-like creatures with strap-ons. They have been segrated to there own continent and you have to be age verified to even go there. So if you dont want it you wont see it. If you wanna see it, it is all cramed together now!!! ROCK ON.

          • It is still rampant with flying dongs, facehumping creatures, and 6-foot fox-like creatures with strap-ons.

            Pretty much like med school, then?

        • I've been in SL since July 19th of 2006 (yep, it's my Rezday) and I've only seen flying dongs...once....at that one specific incident regarding Anshe Chung.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by finity (535067)

      I agree. I've seen one or two of these things before and it usually seems like it'll turn into more of a social playground than a training environment.

      I can understand how this might allow med students to practice diagnosing something, but the OPs point about it being more valuable than resuscitating a dummy in real life seems way off. They will never be able to teach something that requires a specific physical action in a simulated world. For instance, you have to actually practice CPR on something tha

      • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <`abacaxi' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Sunday July 19, 2009 @12:15PM (#28748153)

        I can understand how this might allow med students to practice diagnosing something, but the OPs point about it being more valuable than resuscitating a dummy in real life seems way off. They will never be able to teach something that requires a specific physical action in a simulated world. For instance, you have to actually practice CPR on something that resembles a human in order to truly understand how to do CPR. You have to actually practice placing the defibrillator paddles on a human form, you can't just right click and select "defibrillate."

        You are thinking like an organic mechanic. Very few doctors do a large amount of resuscitating and defibrillating patients. They need practice in interviewing skills to get diagnoses, which SL can give them. Getting a good patient history, and correctly interpreting it, means the difference between successfully treating the patient and not.

        They need practice ordering lab tests and interpreting the results, ordering the right test, not pissing off the lab techs, not expecting TV medi-drama speed on the tests.

        The hospitals can run the SL experience with ZERO investment into 3D equipment, and without taking up RL space in the hospital. I've participated in RL tyraining for interns and med students, and getting everyone into the same place at the same time is difficult. With SL, the "patient" can be in Cleveland and the med student in Detroit.

        • by greenbird (859670) *

          You are thinking like an organic mechanic. Very few doctors do a large amount of resuscitating and defibrillating patients. They need practice in interviewing skills to get diagnoses, which SL can give them. Getting a good patient history, and correctly interpreting it, means the difference between successfully treating the patient and not.

          I wish I had mod points. And in dealing with having to make life or death decisions with incomplete or possible even incorrect information. This type of training is far more critical to patient survival that how to do CPR or where to place the defibrillator paddles.

      • by ozbird (127571)

        I agree. I've seen one or two of these things before and it usually seems like it'll turn into more of a social playground than a training environment.

        Many doctors would do well to learn some social skills.

    • It's interesting that folks are looking into the possibilities. Perhaps it will find itself useful for training and in other different ways.

      One idea came to mind:

      Health care is a hot topic in the US. I'm old enough to remember family doctors making house calls, in the late 60's and very early 70's, in my home town in upstate NY. Judging by the lack of local medical help in the rural town where I am now, there aren't enough doctors to go around. Some towns have sponsored (new?) doctors, paying their educ

      • It's interesting that folks are looking into the possibilities. Perhaps it will find itself useful for training and in other different ways.

        Yep - while Slashdot, supposedly the home of the forward looking geek and nerd, spend their time (once again) pointing and laughing.

    • However, I am really excited that doctors of the future will have greater computer literacy.

      The majority of doctors today work on paper and refuse to have anything to do with computers.

      This is a huge drag on our medical system, and reminds me of stories where NASA scientists refused to use computers because they liked doing calculations by hand.

      It wasn't until their hands were forced or the old guard retired that they could see the opportunities computers opened up.

      The medical record of the future will not

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        The majority of doctors today work on paper and refuse to have anything to do with computers.

        Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've created. The ability to bankrupt a country is nothing compared to force of a thousand poorly written systems, implemented by representatives of Satan all integrated by the lowest bidder.

        The majority of doctors today would like to work with an electronic medical record that didn't suck donkey balls, take more time than evolution and cost more than a Larry E

    • by sunwolf (853208)
      Wait until MS releases a SL clone with Natal built in.

      Then you'll see the benefits.
    • by sunwolf (853208)
      Just wait until MS releases a SL clone with Project Natal built-in. Then the simulation scene will get much more interesting.
      • well MS could do it a few ways

        1 port SL to the Xbox platform and just use the SL grid
        2 pay SL for a copy of their software and put up a grid of their own

        3 just say FIDO and hand Linden Labs the protohype hardware and the needed SDK

        but then Microsoft does not want to get that "OpenSource" stuff on them

  • There is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No substitute for real patients.

    However, few real patients are willing to be a guinea pig. It's the great impasse in medical sciences. Since I trained in the third world, I had no shortage of desperate patients in a society where litigation is virtually impossible. So I would consider my years of "hands on" experience much more valuable than someone who has spent the same hours with some form of virtual patient. But then again in "developed" countries, the threat of litigation is very serious. So it's kind

    • by glueball (232492)

      I guess not all of us are as fortunate as you to have the flexibility of disposable, forgettable patients and still yet call the outcome of such experience enlightening.


      But take away the expensive diagnostic equipment and lab tests, and they become useless in the field.

      You're right. We should skip the MR and go right to exploratory surgery.

      Oh, one other thing. In my wife's oncology practice, there are many people willing to have a run of trial therapy. You may call them a guinea pig, but here in the US w

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        You may call them a guinea pig, but here in the US we still refer to them with respect and refer to them as a patient and "Mr." or "Mrs."

        You live in the US but you don't understand what a figure of speech is?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Aren't there plenty of hospitals and patients in the world? Isn't that the point of university-hospitals?

  • You can't actually start the surgery until the OR walls load or it just isn't sterile.
  • Tactile? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Arrawa (681474)
    When I go to my physician, he asks me questions, and feels and presses around the area I have pains to make a diagnoses. How on earth can a doctor in SL make a good diagnoses when he's not able to touch the patient?
    • Re:Tactile? (Score:4, Informative)

      by DaleGlass (1068434) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:41AM (#28747959) Homepage

      RTFA, or at least the submission.

      Nobody is talking about diagnosing patients on SL. They're talking about using for training, of the sort that's currently being performed on dummies. The supposed advantage is that in SL you can make a dummy that reacts to things being done to it much cheaper than a real one, which would need to have some fancy robotics installed into it.

      I don't know if this is actually helpful or not, but it's got nothing to do with diagnosing people through SL.

      • Well the last time I saw what they were doing at Imperial with second life it was just videos and a pointless copy of the actual buildings in the college. It all seemed rather excessive and unnecessary. It is just some doctor with too much research money playing with what they think is cool.
  • The NHS have found Theme Hospital to be a more accurate simulation.
  • They should add some kind of gloves with the goggles that lets students feel around the operating room as well as see it. That would make this really cool. Sadly the article indicates this is more of a point and click type interface. Who knows, the extra demand for touch gloves like that would make them cheap and wide spread more.
  • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:35AM (#28747939)
    I'm currently a 4th year medical student and can tell you from personal experience that nothing... absolutely nothing... can replace face-to-face training with real-life patients. SecondLife is a fun playground, but it's not a place to learn to practice the art of medicine or the scientific basis for diagnosing disease. Talking to virtual avatars or playing in a virtual OR is nothing like real life. For instance, in a real-life OR, you must vigorously scrub your hands for 2-3 minutes with special cleanser before you're clean to "gown up." When you're standing around waiting for the procedure to start, you have to have your hands crossed in front of you in a special position to avoid touching anything that isn't sterile, including your own face, sides of your gown, etc. Good luck reproducing these intricate details in Second Life.

    Virtually every medical school in the US has a "patient simulator" laboratory where mechanical / robotic dummies are used to train future physicians. These labs also host "simulated patients," - actors, usually from the community, who are trained to play the part of a patient with a specific disease. It isn't cheap for schools to do this, but it's a lot more realistic to perform your first vaginal exam or rectal exam on a real person than in a SecondLife virtual world. Same goes for performing other aspects of the physical exam. How is a student to put their stethescope to the patient's chest, carotid arteries, abdomen, or back in order to arrive at a diagnosis when there is no mechanism to do so in SecondLife? These are things that must be experienced to learn.

    If you want to learn to be a doctor - go to a real medical school, interact with both real and trained patients in real life, and learn the intricacies of the art of talking to a patient, sharing your compassion with them, and working through their problems or concerns under real conditions. When a patient with depression and suicidal ideation shows up to the Emergency Department and there are 13 other patients waiting to be seen, I have to make a decision about how much time I'll spend with them. Do I talk them through their concerns? Do I let Social Work handle it? Do I call for a psychiatry consult? Doing these things in second life are easy and have few repercussions. Calling for a psych consult at 3:00 AM on a Tuesday for simple SI and depression will get my head ripped off by the poor psychiatrist who has to come in to do what I should have been able to do myself.

    All this will do is build barriers and put "blinders" onto future physicians. "It couldn't have been a heart attack - he didn't have left sided chest pain radiating to the arm and jaw. He had no shortness of breath! That's how I was taught MI's all present in Second Life!" Med schools need to stop cutting corners and trying to implement these ridiculous ways of trying to be "cutting edge." Want to be cutting edge? Implement a computerized medical record system that actually works - for starters - and institute a system by which patients evaluate their physicians in a publicly available forum so that we can see which docs should be doctors... and which shouldn't. That would do more for patient care than any of this Second Life nonsense.
    • by maxume (22995)

      Is it a little uncomfortable performing a vaginal or rectal exam when you know the 'patient' is a paid actor who volunteered to undergo the procedure?

    • Straw Man (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      +5 for a straw man argument? It's not about replacing face to face training, it's a step before that. I would imagine it adds to what's currently practiced on a faceless dummy, or just reading a textbook, or being lectured at.

      If you want to learn to be a doctor - go to a real medical school

      What - like Imperial College, London? You talk as if people are replacing medical schools with schools solely existing in Second Life, which would be absurd.

      Slashdot is so predictable. Anything involving certain topics su

    • "OR, you must vigorously scrub your hands for 2-3 minutes with special cleanser before you're clean to "gown up."**1 When you're standing around waiting for the procedure to start, you have to have your hands crossed in front of you in a special position to avoid touching anything that isn't sterile, including your own face, sides of your gown, etc.**2 Good luck reproducing these intricate details in Second Life."

      1 sink with a "scrub hands" animation rigged to a clock script
      2 Animation override with "zero c

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Amazing. Did you even read the summary, to say nothing of the article? No one, no one, is talking about replacing hands-on training with Second Life. It's a preparation. A supplement. A place to play with scenarios that you can't easily replicate with actors, and to give colleagues from widely separated geographical locations a way to work together at least to some degree.

      Me, I'm a veteran military medic and civilian EMT with ten years of experience in emergency medicine, so I hope, almost-doctor, that

      • by fishbowl (7759)

        There are tons of comments here from people who have never set foot in a medical college, have never had a spouse or a child who has been a medical student, and for sure has never been a medical student him or herself.

        You really have no idea what medical school is like. It's not like other professional schools, in too many ways to list, and it's completely unlike grad school. The experience is unique. Trust me, the students, especially the 2nd years, will appreciate any tool that helps them through some

      • I hope if I have the misfortune of requiring the services of EMS, you are not the individual dispatched to respond to my emergency. If you believe SecondLife has any place in the training of physicians, you obviously haven't used the simulation. Walking around in a virtual world "chatting" with patients will teach an individual nothing. If anything, it will harm students by dumbing down the medical environment to the point where the consequences of actions appear cartoon-like and unrealistic. As you ast
    • by greenbird (859670) * on Sunday July 19, 2009 @03:30PM (#28749363)

      If you want to learn to be a doctor - go to a real medical school, interact with both real and trained patients in real life, and learn the intricacies of the art of talking to a patient, sharing your compassion with them, and working through their problems or concerns under real conditions. When a patient with depression and suicidal ideation shows up to the Emergency Department and there are 13 other patients waiting to be seen, I have to make a decision about how much time I'll spend with them. Do I talk them through their concerns? Do I let Social Work handle it? Do I call for a psychiatry consult? Doing these things in second life are easy and have few repercussions. Calling for a psych consult at 3:00 AM on a Tuesday for simple SI and depression will get my head ripped off by the poor psychiatrist who has to come in to do what I should have been able to do myself.

      Your reasoning supports the premise rather than opposing it. This type of simulation allows you to encounter 1000's of such situations cheaply and quickly under conditions where no one is going to die when you screw the pooch completely. It allows for you and others to go back and much more objectively evaluate your performance without the emotion of knowing that your wrong actions just killed someone. It allows you to store in your brain a much greater range of scenarios and situations. No one is saying eliminate face-to-face training with real-life patients. Simulation allows you to be better prepared and to augment such training. It allows for much greater scope of training since face-to-face training with real-life patients is both much more expensive and much more risky. Would it be better for you to perform open heart surgery the first time on a simulator or actually slicing up a (hopefully) live patients heart? Wouldn't it be much better on a simulator where you can encounter a broad range of complications and critical situations where the patients life isn't at risk?

      • Would it be better for you to perform open heart surgery the first time on a simulator or actually slicing up a (hopefully) live patients heart? Wouldn't it be much better on a simulator where you can encounter a broad range of complications and critical situations where the patients life isn't at risk?

        1. Medical students do not perform "open heart surgery." Interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, who do perform surgery on the heart, have at a minimum 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of supervised residency training (where they are required to complete a large number of cases under the supervision - in the OR - of attending physicians who have years of experience in the field), and a year or two of specialized fellowship training. No. A simulator is not what I wa

    • This is just *part* of a complete program. I think the next step would be taking this idea in its own direction and creating a dedicated simulation program just for medical training purposes. Written just for one specific use, it could have all the 'intricate details' you mention--including taking off points if they don't cross their hands in the correct position, and etc.

      Does this take the place of any other type of training? Absolutely not. But supplementing what they already do with this can only help.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fishbowl (7759)

      >I'm currently a 4th year medical student and can tell you from personal experience that nothing... absolutely nothing... can replace face-to-face training
      >with real-life patients.

      Of course not. Do you think that claim is on the table? Do you have anything against supplemental information?

      I think a virtual training room could help with USMLE STEP or OSCE preparedness, don't you?

      The "virtual patients" are not automata, they are merely a communication medium for the same standardized patients you get

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:41AM (#28747965)
    This is another silly case of using something not because it's well suited, but simply because it is there. A conversation with an avatar? A "Professor" reading a script? How crazy is that? Think about how different that is from a RL consultation where the doctor has to *look at* and *listen to* the patient. Why not act those in RL? The same with making a virtual OR when they could just show them a real one.

    Take this quote: 'You can take risks that aren't safe in the real world and teach more complex subjects in three dimensions.' Hey, RL *is* 3D. SL is a poor 2D imitation. A medical dummy *is* 3D. SL is not.

    But what's really silly about all this is the PR this is generating for a really dumb idea, when they deserved to be slapped around. All you need to do is find a ridiculous way to work Twitter/YouTube/Facebook into your press release and you'll get widespread coverage.

    Check this book by Jerome Groopman called "How Doctors Think". He describes how doctors *should* give consultations. This SL idea is going to teach med students some really bad habits. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=8892053 [npr.org]
    • by Carnildo (712617)

      This is another silly case of using something not because it's well suited, but simply because it is there. A conversation with an avatar? A "Professor" reading a script? How crazy is that? Think about how different that is from a RL consultation where the doctor has to *look at* and *listen to* the patient. Why not act those in RL? The same with making a virtual OR when they could just show them a real one.

      Thinking back on one of my recent encounters with the medical profession (a dentist visit to diagnose

  • 'When you're resuscitating a dummy in real life, it looks like a dummy.'

    I say just let the dummies die. There's far too many of them walking around as it is.

  • This program offers training to future doctors and veterinarians at the same time. After all, where else could you go to find half-human half-animal anthropomorphic avatars wandering around?
  • by Alurian (1601145) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @12:29PM (#28748245) Homepage

    I find it curious that the reactions to this idea are both so sceptical and so negative. I'm not unbiased in my point of view but I do think I have a bit of objectivity gifted to me from being able to see both sides of the story here. Allow me to explain.

    I'm not a nursing student nor am I a nurse, doctor or in fact anyone in the medical profession. I am, however, a third year computing student. Presently myself and my team are creating just one such environment like this, at the University of Tasmania, Australia. We've been working for quite a long time on this project, and we've faced considerable difficulties getting such a project off of the ground, not least because of a mixture of sceptics, confused requirements and because of people who had their heads in the sky thinking we can work wonders with Second Life.

    Now I agree with the previous comment titled 'Creates barriers, doesn't knock them down' by CorporalKlinger, but only insofar as that face-to-face and real life training experiences cannot be replaced by Second Life training environments. There is a lot to be said from this comment - and the real experiences are indeed the most valuable of teaching methods for students in this field.

    The point that is missed in this comment and many others is that the Second Life training environment is not supposed to be taken as a replacement - what is being created here, in both the instance of my own project, as well as (I assume the majority of) other projects of such a nature is a complement to existing training methods.

    Before I continue I want to define what I am talking about when I henceforth use the term 'Simulation': I refer to something attempting to mimic real life in such a way as that it could be practically used in actual real life circumstances. Something taken to be as reality such that training with it would be sufficient to replace training in actuality.

    The bottom line with training in Second Life, from my point of view at the very least, is that it is not a simulation and it is not meant to ever replace face-to-face learning. Anyone who claims that it is supposed to be at the simulation level and anyone who claims it will one day replace existing face-to-face methods of training is either entirely delusional or severely misinformed.

    Any person who spends any amount of time in Second Life will be able to quickly assess that the environment is not one suitable for simulation level training. The controls are fiddly and odd, the world is not always easy to navigate in, there are other people around, unexpected interruptions, lag preventing any sort of decent real-time training and also any simulation level tool worth its weight should not require learning in its own right first, before the simulation can begin. That's a critical design flaw in its own right that prevents Second Life ever reaching into true simulative areas and this is unlikely to be something that ever changes. Short of the most incredible virtual reality programs, 'true' simulation that will replace real life training is at our present state of technology a practical impossibility.

    That ordinary users can identify how problematic Second Life would be as a simulation should already be indicative that developers have taken this into account.

    On the flipside, there are a lot of people out there, people who stand to profit or genuinely interested nurses and doctors, who might try and sell the Second Life hospitals and training environments as simulations of reality. These are dangerous waters, because developers willingly working under people who would sell their Second Life environment as a simulation are producing a dangerous tool that could stand to one day misinform people who hold the lives of others in their hands. This is a powerful point against using Second Life and is probably the underlying point in most negative criticism that I've read.

    Despite the risks and scepticism involved, the benefits of using Second Life in this way (when the way it is to be used is very clearly defi

    • Bravo for this intelligent and reasonable response. Knee-jerk vitriol from the Second Life haters out there who don't get it and don't want to (or don't have the intelligence to) abound in forums, but this relatively new technology of interactive virtual space has much to offer currently and even more potential as it improves.

      Your description of this training facility by Imperial College as a (and should be ONLY) "go between" introduction that makes a transition from the printed textbook to the hands-on
    • by retchdog (1319261)

      I'm not a nursing student nor am I a nurse, doctor or in fact anyone in the medical profession. I am, however, a third year computing student.

      And that's my cue to stop reading. Thanks!

    • I find it curious that the reactions to this idea are both so sceptical and so negative.

      I've been noticing this a lot lately as well. It seems like a quick way to get an "Insightful" mod is to start pointing out all the possible flaws in a new idea (what could possibly go wrong). I'm not sure if these are real objections or people looking for quick karma.

      Good grief. We're suppose to be anti-social nerds. Anything to help cut down on dealing with real people is a good thing, right? Right?

    • by velen (1198819)

      Oh please! What about a freaking field trip to a hospital instead of screwing around with a computer? You are training humans to be robots blindly following a process. Human interaction is what doctors are supposed to be good at. Eventually a computer can order a battery of laboratory tests and prescribe medicines based on what the pharmaceutical companies peddle.

    • by reed (19777)

      Thank you, this is very insightul. We really do need to be careful about what we are claiming an online virtual world (VW) can and cannot do.

      One role I do see VWs being good at is simulation of *processes*, if not specific physical skills -- processes of communication, sequences of action, decision making, etc. A high level simulation like this can present students with a set of circumstances on a more abstract level, to let them figure out how they might deal with it in RL. When it comes to learning h

  • 'You can take risks that aren't safe in the real world'

    You sure can. A resident in a real hospital who filled someone's office with gigantic severed penises would probably get sacked and arrested. In Sadville that kind of thing is no more surprising than rain.

  • 'The real innovation in SL clinical simulations is that they bring people together in a clinical space - you are standing next to an avatar who is a real patient, and the doctor avatar to your right is a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and the nurse to your left is at the University of Pennsylvania hospital,'

    (emphasis added)

    I know that when I'm stuck in a hospital, the first thing I want to do is log into Second Life and play a patient lying in a bed in the hospital so that virtual doctors can harass me there as well. I can just see it now...some poor guy tries to get out of bed in Second Life, only to have a handful of doctors and nurses surround him suddenly and insist that he's not well enough to get up, despite his claims that "he's been healed" and the fact that he's jumping around the virtual room lik

  • You mean I actually have to walk in that crowd?

  • Why are there tags in the headline?

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