Oh boy.. I totally meant to write this post a LONG time ago. Like last Sunday, ha. Funny how life sneaks up on you and the best laid plans end up looking like Saskatchewan highways after numerous frost heaves!

Anyway… better late than never I always say and here is the much awaited report on the SL field trip I went on to the Ann Meyer’s Medical Center in Second Life on Saturday.

We all convened at a conference building (pictured below) and there we were briefed on a case that would be presented in the Emergency Room. Then we all went to the Emergency Room and the interns were directed to click on different notecard givers that gave medical photographs, designed to represent the physical state of the patient waiting for care in the bed.

The simulation lesson idea is a very good one and has the power to be very engaging and immersive. There were a few issues with the simulation I witnessed, however. The case presented in the conference room was quite a bit different than the one actually waiting for everyone in the ER, but, that’s OK. Often times the reality of situations is very often different from what one has been “told” and in medicine in particular, I imagine this is far more the norm than many of us would be comfortable with.

The participants in the simulation seemed confused about what they were expected to do. My partner, Arsene, joined me on this observational field trip. I kept to the background and took notes, doing precisely what I had come to do, which was to observe. Arsene, however, is a doctor in France and he couldn’t resist stepping in to offer some advice. Advice, it turns out, that was quite valuable and welcomely received by the participants and the instructor alike. Arsene made the observation that the patient was displaying typical symptoms classically presented by battered women in an abusive domestic situation, and this was precisely the point of the simulation, to discover that the woman was indeed suffering from physical abuse.

The simulation then wrapped up in a resource center, where many informational slideshows offer advice and information on a few different topics, such as domestic abuse, H1N1 and other assorted things. The displays change depending on what the class is learning at the time. The sim is open to the public and everyone is welcome to come and observe the activities of the campus anytime. There are scheduled gatherings from time to time and these can be determined by keeping an eye on the AMMC blog site.

All of the participants in the simulation expressed that they learned a lot from the experience, despite some of the hiccups I observed (in this way the SL environment truly operated like any classroom anywhere in the “real” world). As an outside observer I noticed a couple of things that could have improved the experience. They include:

  • Making sure the briefing case in the conference room matched the case that was going to be presented in the ER.
  • Doing a bit of work with the interns prior to the simulation to set out clear-cut expectations and guidelines.
  • Allowing for more time for all elements of the simulation. (Things definitely felt rushed at various points and I found I was a bit disappointed that things were switching gears just as folks seemed to be “getting into” the roles they were supposed to.)
  • Encouraging more role play.

This last point is a particular sore point for me. On a few different resources at the center, and in fact, in the SL advertisement for the medical center, it says in big bold letters NO ROLE PLAYING ALLOWED. This is a contradiction to the main tenet of a simulation. Role playing is the POINT of a simulation.

However, in SL, role playing has  a very bad reputation for many people and  a lot of folks automatically associate role playing with deviant sexual or violent acts. Yes, those types of role playing DO exist in SL but role playing, like so many other learning and instructions techniques is not inherently bad in and of itself. Perhaps the terminology is the issue here, I’m not sure.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the AMMC tour and I believe they are on the right track here with the type of education they are trying to promote here. It seems to me they are still developing and growing, and like anything else in life, they are on a continuous learning journey. For me, at least, this is an engaging and immersive way to learn 🙂

AMMC Hospital Building

Conference Room Briefing

Emergency Room Patient Nix

Ann Meyers Medical Center Resource Center

Edit:  I just found this interview with John Norris about how he inserted the medical images and charts and information that was used in the hospital at AMMC.