Medical Training Gets a Second Life

, August 12, 2014

The University of Michigan School of Nursing is using the online virtual world Second Life to help medical students hone their leadership and communication skills, and to do so with some degree of anonymity.

Telemedicine isn't just a cost-saving way to treat patients in remote locations. It's also another way to train medical professionals.

While some medical schools are adding programs that emphasize the development of empathy and observational skills, others are using technology as their gateway a heightened learning experience.

The University of Michigan School of Nursing uses the online virtual world, Second Life. Through its virtual Wolverine Clinic, medical students can log in with their own avatars and work through various scenarios.

Michelle Aebersold, PhD, RN, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the UMSN and her colleague, Dana Tschannen, PhD, RN, a Clinical Associate Professor of the Division of Systems Leadership and Effectiveness Science at UMSN, received a small grant to build the virtual clinic.

Aebersold, also the Director of the Clinical Learning Center for the UMSN, started the program with nurses, and saw that training in the virtual space had great advantages.

Virtual acute care and outpatient environments were created where the students would perform their trainings. "The nice thing about the virtual environment is that we can schedule training in there and students didn't have to be on site, they could log in from home," says Aebersold.


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