The use of immersive virtual reality in teaching basic point-of-care ultrasound to medical students
Point-of-care ultrasound has become a valuable diagnostic tool in clinical diagnostic treatment. Hands-on training and supervision are required to build competencies in ultrasound, but courses for undergraduate medical students are not properly established yet. Only few have explored the efficacy of immersive virtual reality as a teaching method in ultrasound courses.
The aim of this study is to compare the efficacy of a traditional instructor-led class with a completely virtual, self-directed lesson in IVR applied to a course on basic US skills.
Point-of-care ultrasound has become a valuable diagnostic tool in clinical diagnostic treatment: Point-of-care ultrasound is performed in real-time and the dynamic images correlate with the patient's present symptoms. Point-of-care ultrasound is easily repeatable and is used in several specialties for procedural, diagnostic, and screening applications. Hands-on training and proper supervision are required to build the competencies that allow non-radiologists to obtain optimal ultrasound images and finally interpret the results to support clinical decision making. Therefore, an introduction to basic ultrasound early in a physician's career seems desirable. Several studies on US courses for undergraduate medical students have already taken place, but the methods, assessments, and criteria vary widely.
Virtual reality is advancing as an educational tool in both pre- and postgraduate medical training. Immersive virtual reality includes a head-mounted device that allows the user to observe and move around in a simulated, virtual environment, while controllers or hand-tracking allow the user to interact with it. Immersive virtual reality offers an engaging, risk-free learning environment and the opportunity to practice several training scenarios in different essential medical skills. Although only a few have explored the use of immersive virtual reality in ultrasound education, immersive virtual reality could possibly reduce the number of teaching hours and costs in future ultrasound training and minimize the interpersonal contact without compromising the quality of the course.
The aim of this study is to compare the efficacy of a traditional instructor-led class with a completely virtual, self-directed lesson in immersive virtual reality applied to a course on basic ultrasound skills. The primary outcome is the immediate learning efficacy,, scored by a standardized Objective Structured Assessment of Ultrasound Skills-score (17). The secondary outcome is the long term and course-integrated learning efficacy of the instructor-led class and immersive virtual reality-directed class by the end of the full course.
Description of the cohort
130 medical students enrolled in 12th semester at University of Southern Denmark will be offered an ultrasound course in point-of-care US in the fall semester of 2020. In that connection, we will randomize the students to participate in an instructor-led class or an immersive virtual reality-directed class and afterwards assess their newly acquired skills.
Data and biological material
We will present the students with a short questionnare on basic information (e.g. age, sex, and previous participation in an ultrasound course). At the following assessment, blinded assessors will use a quantitative score derived from the internationally approved Objective Structured Assessment of Ultrasound Skills-score. This way, we can objectively assess the students' basic ultrasound skills.
Collaborating researchers and departments
VitaSim, Cortex Park, Odense, Denmark
- Rune O. Jensen, MD, CEO and co-founder
Research and Innovation Unit of Radiology, Odense University Hospital, Denmark
- Ole Graumann, Associate Professor, PhD, MD
University of Southern Denmark
- Lars Konge, Adjunct Professor, MD