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Second Life Used to Train Med Students

There's no question that Second Life isn't a game. In fact, the virtual social world has transformed into somewhat of an entity, a way of life for many of its fans, and a useful platform for musicians, colleges, and universities since its launch back in 2003. Now the Imperial College London, among other institutions, is using the 3-D realm to prepare its students in health-care training programs.

As reported by DISCOVER Magazine, the institution has built a virtual hospital--complete with a Respiratory ward, an operating room, and an O.R.--that enables students to order tests, listen to a patient's chest, diagnose problems, and virtually perform most of the tasks carried out in the real world. Although virtual simulations have been used for years as a part of medical training, students apparently prefer the Second Life approach.

“No kid wants to put in a CD-ROM and do a set sim--they want interactivity and social networking,” said John Miller, a nursing instructor who created the Nursing Education Simulation (YouTube video) used within Second Life. “SL takes what’s great about simulations and gives them that social aspect. It’s more like real life.”

However critics have questioned the health-care education simulations in Second Life, saying that too little research has been done to see if the virtual tasks actually educate the students. But universities such as Imperial College London have been gathering evidence on the virtual world's effectiveness on its students.

“We tested [the virtual O.R.] in a controlled experiment on 40 first-year medical students prior to their first visit to a real O.R," reports ICL's David Taylor, director of virtual worlds and medical media in the Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology. "We wanted to determine if [the SL program] gives them more confidence before their first exposure to the real thing. We’ve found it is just as effective as the training O.R. in the physical world.”

  • the_one111
  • dingumf
    And then your realize your virtual wife has virtual breast cancer...
  • Ridik876
    "complete with a Respiratory ward, an operating room, and an O.R."

    I wonder if it also has an emergency room and an E.R. And I bet it's full of medical doctors and M.D.'s.
  • 1971Rhino
    Of course the real upside to training in SL like this is to teach the students how to deal with griefers!
  • I think this is a very interesting and hot new innovation. Some of the technology simulation games that are being developed include a sensory experience component that can add value to muscle memory training. If the army/defense us games and simulation to train for combat, then the medical profession can certainly do so as well. One of the nice things about the simulation experience is that doctors can train on surgery or other related issues that may not always occur enough in real life to provide proper training. I recently wrote a post on this topic and discussed how IT professionals in the gaming and simulation industry should consider transferring their skills to the medical simulation industry. You should check it out - -
  • athreex
    dingumfAnd then your realize your virtual wife has virtual breast cancer...

    Your comment ain't far from the truth. Atually, you can have virtual babies. There is people that work for money in second life ( there is currency exchange in dollars/linden). Linden is the money on second life. People pay for virtual lands.

    Thanks for the currency exchange, there are musicians having their career in SL ( Yeah there are actually bands (jazz, pop, rock, OPERA).

    In my opinion... SL is scary, you can have highest the expectations out of it, and believe me, you'll still be short with your imagination.

    Thanks to these infinite possibilities. It is dangerously addictive. Peeple has loss their "lives" (wives, relationships, work) just because of this little App that takes roughly 25 MB to download.

    I can say this because I entered for a couple of days...and damn it, The sims is ABC compared to SL.
  • tygrus
    It is designed to compliment training not replace it. It allows them to see cause and affect before experimenting on live patients and crowding hospital space. The test subjects may be controlled by supervisors, scripted actors or AI. The supervisors can monitor progress and interaction without getting in the way. The SL training is probably more life like than actors and less risky than live patients.
  • WheelsOfConfusion
    Does this mean vets will start training on all the virtual furries in SL?
  • anamaniac
    WheelsOfConfusionDoes this mean vets will start training on all the virtual furries in SL?
    Get the scalpal away form me!

    I don't play 2L. ;)
  • Regulas
    This is about stupid, waste of time and they probably used some form of taxpayer dollars to pay for it, maybe the porkulus bill the hacks in DC passed without even reading it!