Medical Education in the virtual world- A Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) pilot program

Virtual worlds have rapidly become an immersive tool for medical education and training. BMC piloted a post-graduation medical education program in the virtual world. Their objectives were:

1. to explore the potential of a virtual world for delivering CME
2. determine possible instructional designs using Second Life for CME
3. determine the limitations of Second Life for CME
4. measure participant learning outcomes and feedback

The program:

BMC started with an existing BUSM Second Life build that was built earlier as a joint project with WHO. The virtual location was a private island which was later modified to an outdoor with no roof, open walkways and automatic seating.

The Recruits:

To keep the attendance low, 14 physicians were selected for this pilot. Out of 14, 8 were female primary care physicians. Participants resided in different states namely NC, IL, CA, MA, SC, CT, KY. Out of 14, 3 were already experienced in second life and hence remaining 11 were trained on using second life.

The Instructional Design:

Immersive e-learningA 40-minute insulin therapy lecture was created with focus on key concepts, added visual elements, strategic questions (to be answered by chat). Two mock diabetic patients were designed. A backchat was created where every avatar in the immediate vicinity would hear (read as a call-out) the chat.

The session was programed to be conducted on Monday, June 15, 2009 from 7 PM to 8 PM. The session officially ended at 8 PM but participants stayed until 8.30 PM socializing. Overall the program was successful and the objectives were met at the collection of feedback gathered.

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