Medical students studying ophthalmology view the complex structures and functions of the human eye through two dimensional teaching aids and traditional teaching methods. Deliberate practice is necessary for mastery learning. Currently this takes place through physical simulators purpose built for specific procedures, however how do these students master the basic concepts on which these simulators are based? In order for the complex concepts of ophthalmology to be mastered, there needs to be innovation in the ways students learn.
- 2D Representations of 3D Problems
Complex subject matter, such as Visual Pathways, is poorly represented in standard teaching material and the time to master these subjects could be shortened.
- Not Enough Early “Hands On” Practice
Students currently practice on real patients or dissect a cadaver. Both of these are suboptimal, as a cadaver does not function like a live subject and practicing on real patients can potentially compromise the safety of the patient. This limits the amount of practice students receive while in the classroom.
- Limited Amount of Dysfunctions That Can Be Simulated
Currently, instructors are limited in how dysfunctions and diseases are demonstrated in classroom settings. These examples are often presented as case studies with limited hands on exploration.
EyeSim, developed together with Dr. Anuradha Khanna from A Nu Reality, is a Virtual Reality ophthalmic training simulator application designed for educators to use in the classroom for learners to achieve mastery learning through deliberate practice. Currently available modules include ocular anatomy, pupil simulator, ocular motility simulator, and a visual pathway simulator.
Virtual Reality Improves Learning
Complex concepts can be accurately modeled to facilitate learning and lead to quicker understanding than older two-dimensional teaching aides. Complex subjects, like Visual Pathways, can be represented in a much more realistic and accurate fashion. This enables students to quickly understand what’s going on rather than requiring them to reconstruct a comparable model in their head from 2D representations.
Unlimited “Hands On” Practice
By bringing Virtual Reality to ophthalmology education, students can get hands on experience and gain valuable practice all without touching a patient or a cadaver. Structures and functions are realistically replicated within a virtual environment resulting in the ability to practice procedures and understand anatomical functions without repeated dissections or patient interactions.
Combine Dysfunctions for Improved Practice
Through Virtual Reality, instructors can select from any number of dysfunctions and have their students perform a diagnosis. More important, however, an instructor can combine several dysfunctions and create rare patient cases for their students to practice with.
Virtual Reality presents the perfect platform for advanced medical education. With VR, students can get hands on practice to help them master complex and difficult tasks. EyeSim is available on Mobile Platforms, Desktop, Ibench Mobile, and Icatcher.
During my twenty years of experience in academic ophthalmology, I have transparencies to digital slides to PowerPoint. I see Virtual Research in many specialties has shown that simulation based medical education combined with deliberate practice enables mastery learning. EyeSim will provide my colleagues with a platform to build a simulation based ophthalmic educational curriculum on, and an opportunity for the learners to achieve mastery learning through deliberate practice in a safe environment.