Medical Students Getting Lots Of Experience Without Ever Touching A Human

Tiffany Tanaka
Tiffany Tanaka
Dr. Dale Vincent
Dr. Dale Vincent

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- For most people, experience is the most sought after quality in a doctor. And with new high-tech equipment, the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine is making sure it's future doctors get just that.

Advanced human patient simulators, and a virtual reality 3-dimensional world help UH medical students gain confidence and experience. It's training that's changing the face of the future of medicine.

A building has collapsed, and these patients need help. It's second year medical student Tiffany Tanaka's job to triage the patients.

"In the past, about the best we could do was a lot of classroom work and a lot of exercises on paper," said Director of Telemedicine, Dr. Dale Vincent.

These "patients" have a pulse, blood pressure, can breathe, and respond to treatment.

"We can train them better because it's hands on training," added Vincent.

Students who've gone through the simulated patient triage training show drastic improvement in speed and accuracy.

"I think the best thing is to help you prioritize and keep calm when you have an urgent situation," explained Tanaka.

"With just a very little interaction with the mannequins, their performance is just dramatically better."

Next door, a virtual reality simulator takes Tiffany into another world.

"I think that they do work pretty well. This is as close to reality as I've gotten. We're pretty much just used to books right now."

A member of the graduating class of 2010, Tiffany thinks this type of training is vital for future generations of doctors.

"I think we should keep going in this direction it really helps students tackle things in a more realistic way," added Tanaka.

28 UH medical students have completed the simulated triage course. Faculty have also taken the course to the world, training nearly 200 first responders in Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.