Gifu U’s med students learn from a computerized virtual hospital

Med students learn in virtual hospital

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A student examines a robot patient inside a virtual hospital located in the medical department of Gifu University.

GIFU–Medical students at Gifu University are polishing their diagnostic and other skills by interviewing and performing physical examinations of artificial patients at a computerized virtual hospital in their classroom.

Medical students traditionally have seen lectures as the focal point of their learning. At the special virtual hospital however, the students can now gain confidence by utilizing tools including computer graphics and robots to undergo training in such areas as medical review and physical examination of patients before they embark on practical training as trainee doctors in hospitals.

The innovative tools were jointly developed by a group led by Prof. Yuzo Takahashi, 60, as part of an industry-academic-public research group under the Education, Science and Technology Ministry’s Creation of Intellectual Clusters program to create new industries.

Images of the human body, including internal organs, are projected onto a 3-D human model, and students can examine and touch the model just as if it was a real patient.

Students can move the robot patient around as they question the “patient” about its medical symptoms.

During the questioning and examination, robot will respond to queries about its medical condition with an artificial voice, adding a touch of realism to students’ training.

“Before the medical students have to suddenly attend to real-life patients, it’s good if they can make any initial mistakes on robots and make up for their shortcomings,” Takahashi said.

(Oct. 11, 2008)

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