News & Press: VR and AR

Virtual Reality, Mixed with Innovative Thinking, for an Emergency Medicine Interview

Thursday, September 13, 2018  
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By SimGHOSTS Board Member Scott Crawford MD, CHSOS


Interest in virtual reality has exploded over the last half decade. 3D imaging capabilities brought to life new possibilities in entertainment, education, and now simulation. Who can benefit from this new technology? Anyone who needs to interact with technology, adapt to new experiences quickly, and demonstrate critical thinking and communication skills. It was this interest that brought about the use of a novel technique for interviewing prospective emergency medicine physicians.


A recently released article from the Journal Academic Emergency Medicine - Education and Training, describes the use of a video game and a virtual reality headset for exactly this purpose: to evaluate prospective emergency medicine physicians. This unique method of evaluating communication and problem solving skills was not only found to be useful by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso emergency medicine department who pioneered it, but the activity was overwhelmingly supported by the prospective residents who experienced the use of the activity during their evaluation.


The visually stimulating innovation of the virtual reality helmet highlights the importance of communication, and ironically requires it, as the visual images from the virtual reality helmet are only seen by one member of the interview team. In order to successfully defuse the virtual bomb in the game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, the other member(s) of the team rely on the spoken information from their teammate to solve logic puzzles and assist with bomb defusal.


The innovation used a Samsung phone-based virtual reality helmet to evaluate this us of this technique in 2016. Over 100 applicants experienced this activity as one as part of a larger interview day. Based on the feedback and result of this study the technique has been continued and expand, now in its fourth year of use. The activity now utilizes a full computer-based Oculus VR helmet. Applicants are routinely asked about prior exposure to or experience with VR helmets; and while some increase has been reported over the four-year period. Still, only a handful of applicants report having ever used a VR headset prior to the interview activity.


The application of this interview process is discussed in detail on a podcast produced by Gita Pensa from Brown University. A link to the article discussion and a download link to the podcast are available here.


Researchers continue to look for appropriate applications of virtual reality in healthcare simulation training. Understanding the features for its use and existing methods of adoption will aid in finding broader applications across the healthcare disciplines. Healthcare simulation technology specialists are uniquely positioned to understand these emerging technologies and can find and guide the application of virtual reality for training and evaluation moving forward.