Using Second Life for Medical TrainingIn a January post I talked about the simulation center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. As a follow-on, I'd like to mention an article in today's Wall Street Journal that describes another approach to using simulation to train medical personnel, namely creating virtual environments, such as hospitals, in Second Life and then having trainees deal with various scenarios designed to hone assessment, diagnostic, and treatment skills.
In the main example described by reporter Stephanie Simon,
ER nurses log in to the virtual world, where each assumes control of an avatar a cartoon rendering of a nurse wearing crisp blue scrubs. The nurses can walk their avatars through hallways, up and down stairs and through doorways using keyboard or mouse controls. They can give voice to their avatars by typing their words pop up as a text box or by speaking into a special microphone. Headsets let each nurse hear ambient noise from the virtual scene and listen to the other avatars talking.The above gives you an idea of how a Second Life medical simulation can be set up. You can check out the look and feel of one such simulation in the video below, which is an overview of Second Life training prepared for paramedic students at St. George's University of London.
In the drill, which lasts three hours, the nurse-avatars must create a triage system, assess each patient and figure out how to isolate the most contagious.
Some patient avatars are controlled by instructors ... Other avatars are preprogrammed; they speak only phrases that the instructors have prerecorded ("I can't breathe!"). Nurse-avatars can click on the patients' bodies to pull up text boxes with vital signs and a list of symptoms.
At any point, the instructor can "throw a wrench into the system," Dr. Greci [the simulation's developer] says, by setting off a virtual earthquake or blackout or dumping rain on the patients waiting outside.