Virtual Health Exam

Published: June 23rd, 2009

Category: Video

The saying goes “practice makes perfect” and University of Florida researchers are putting that to the test using virtual humans. Medical students are using this virtual patient to conduct a breast exam, one of the most difficult exams to teach and learn.

Aaron Kotranza/UF Research Assistant: “Students have anxieties related to the intimate nature of the exam, as well as low confidence in correctly performing an exam because they don’t get a lot of practice performing the exam on a human patient.”

Medical educators write scripts to create the virtual patient and she communicates via speech and gestures. Each script focuses on a different medical history or fear. And with the mannequin, students can also perform a physical exam on the virtual patient; good practice for the future.

Aaron Kotranza/UF Research Assistant: “Students will treat will treat the virtual patient with a similar amount of empathy as they treat a human patient. They’ll actually touch the mannequin that we use in order to comfort the virtual patient which is similar to how touch is used to comfort a human patient who may have fears related to the breast exam.”

Experts who have reviewed the project say they expect this will improve students’ understanding and confidence in conducting a real exam. At the University of Florida, I’m Merissa Richmond.

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