UEA medical students enter virtual reality with new headsets

University of East Anglia medical students given virtual reality headsets

Norwich Medical School students (Ben Kannuralil Sabu, Clariss Paul and Caitlin McArthur using the headsets on UEA campus. - Credit: University of East Anglia

The University of East Anglia is taking its tuition of medical students into the future through virtual reality headsets.

Future doctors, nurses and healthcare experts at Norwich Medical School will all be given the new 360-degree headsets, transporting students to environments like operating theatres, casualty rooms and hospital wards.

UEA is the first university in the UK to provide medical students with their own personal VR headsets, with all 1,250 students in Norwich Medical School equipped with one for the full five years of their degree.

University of East Anglia provide medical students with VR headsets

1,250 students have been provided with the new VR headsets - Credit: University of East Anglia

The headsets are designed to be used with students’ smartphones, converting 360-degree video content into immersive, 3D experiences.

Dr Jordan Tsigarides, an academic clinical fellow at the School of Health Sciences, said: “It’s no secret that the pandemic has highlighted the difficulty of arranging placements for medical students in healthcare settings but this is an innovation that we have been working on for some time and COVID has only accelerated us bringing it in.

"Their VR headset won’t be replacing face-to-face learning for our students, but what it will allow them is new opportunities to gain immersive real-life clinical experiences in a virtual way, utilising modern technology to enable students the flexibility to engage whenever and wherever they like."

UEA medical students are excited for the benefits the new technology will bring to their education. 

University of East Anglia medical students given VR headsets

Students will be able to choose from 30 different 360 videos covering different areas of the course, including anatomy, emergency medicine and examinations. - Credit: University of East Anglia

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Third year student Caitlin McArthur said: “It’s going to be a brilliant way to bridge the gap, especially with the pandemic.

"We have been able to go on to placement more recently but there is still an element of online teaching, so to be able to immerse yourself in your own room is going to be a really useful tool for us and I really do believe that UEA has thought about the student experience.”

Students will be able to choose from 30 different 360 videos covering different areas of the course, including anatomy, emergency medicine and examinations.

Examples of the simulations include observing an A&E doctor assessing and treating an unwell patient with chest pain, watching the trauma team manage a patient with burns and fractures, and standing at the end of the bed whilst a patient undergoes the start of an operation.

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