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Nathan Gauge, Anaesthetic and Intensive care doctor:

Teaching the management of acutely unwell children is really difficult. They often come to hospital out of hours, infrequently and when the do examination from medical students can cause distress. As a result, most medical students get no exposure to acute unwell children until they are a qualified doctor and it is a real-life emergency. COVID-19 has made anything but didactic teaching in this area almost impossible.

At OxSTaR we are changing this. We have made virtual a reality for 180 medical students. We have taken cutting-edge commercially available virtual reality software and combined it with low-cost learner centred interventions to maximise the educational potential.

This is an unselected student population, new to virtual reality, as well as some with vision and balance difficulties. We’re teaching the whole range of presentations from seizures to respiratory failure.

We’ve made a number of innovations pairing medical students with one student fully immersed in the virtual scenario the other observing and assessing. Introducing a novel peer-peer feedback tool focused on the learner’s approach and critical thinking rather than technical errors. Building role play into the feedback tool has created verbal interaction and consolidated the learning in a way that is not constrained by the option boxes of the virtual reality.

Using a validated assessment tool we’ve demonstrated a statistically significant increase in learning and confidence with the introduction of the peer to peer feedback system.

Graph: Shows SET-M questionnaire scores increase from 35 in pre using virtual reality to 41.5 after using virtual reality. p=0.005

Nathan Gauge:  We are combining existing assessment methods including multiple choice questions and High fidelity with qualitative feedback to evaluate virtual reality as an assessment tool with the advantages of reproducibility and reduction in unconscious bias in assessors.

Our students love the programme with 100% positive feedback with 82% of students rated the session 5/5 for learning. Our students want more teaching with an expansion of teaching into other modules. Our interventions are low-cost, learner focused, and we’ve already been asked to expand it into other medical schools.

Image: Reimagine Education Bronze award.