Pre-graduation medical training including virtual reality during COVID-19 pandemic: a report on students' perception.BMC Med Educ. 2020 Sep 25; 20(1):332.BM
The Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic brought significant disruption to in-hospital medical training. Virtual reality simulating the clinical environment has the potential to overcome this issue and can be particularly useful to supplement the traditional in-hospital medical training during the COVID-19 pandemic, when hospital access is banned for medical students. The aim of this study was to assess medical students' perception on fully online training including simulated clinical scenarios during COVID-19 pandemic.
From May to July 2020 when in-hospital training was not possible, 122 students attending the sixth year of the course of Medicine and Surgery underwent online training sessions including an online platform with simulated clinical scenarios (Body Interact™) of 21 patient-based cases. Each session focused on one case, lasted 2 h and was divided into three different parts: introduction, virtual patient-based training, and debriefing. In the same period, adjunctive online training with formal presentation and discussion of clinical cases was also given. At the completion of training, a survey was performed, and students filled in a 12-item anonymous questionnaire on a voluntary basis to rate the training quality. Results were reported as percentages or with numeric ratings from 1 to 4. Due to the study design, no sample size was calculated.
One hundred and fifteen students (94%) completed the questionnaire: 104 (90%) gave positive evaluation to virtual reality training and 107 (93%) appreciated the format in which online training was structured. The majority of participants considered the platform of virtual reality training realistic for the initial clinical assessment (77%), diagnostic activity (94%), and treatment options (81%). Furthermore, 97 (84%) considered the future use of this virtual reality training useful in addition to the apprenticeship at patient's bedside. Finally, 32 (28%) participants found the online access difficult due to technical issues.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, online medical training including simulated clinical scenarios avoided training interruption and the majority of participant students gave a positive response on the perceived quality of this training modality. During this time frame, a non-negligible proportion of students experienced difficulties in online access to this virtual reality platform.