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Front. Public Health | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00044

A discussion of virtual reality as a new tool for training healthcare professionals

  • 1UCL Medical School, United Kingdom
  • 2Whittington Hospital, United Kingdom
  • 3The Heron Practice, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Microbiology, Whittington Hospital, United Kingdom
  • 5National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow Scheme, Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management, United Kingdom
  • 6Faculty of Laws, University College London, United Kingdom
  • 7Department of Computer Science, Goldsmiths University of London, United Kingdom

Virtual reality technology is an exciting and emerging field with vast applications. Our study sets out the viewpoint that virtual reality software could be a new focus of direction in the development of training tools in medical education. We carried out a panel discussion at the Centre for Behaviour Change 3rd Annual Conference, prompted by the study, “The Responses of Medical General Practitioners to Unreasonable Patient Demand for Antibiotics--A Study of Medical Ethics Using Immersive Virtual Reality” (Pan et al., 2016).

In Pan et al.’s study, 21 GPs and GP trainees took part in a videoed, 15-minute virtual reality scenario involving unnecessary patient demands for antibiotics. This paper was discussed in depth at the Centre for Behaviour Change 3rd Annual Conference; the content of this paper is a culmination of findings and feedback from the panel discussion. The experts involved have backgrounds in virtual reality, general practice, medicines management, medical education and training, ethics and philosophy.

Virtual reality is an unexplored methodology to instigate positive behavioural change amongst clinicians where other methods have been unsuccessful, such as antimicrobial stewardship. There are several arguments in favour of use of virtual reality in medical education: it can be used for ‘difficult to simulate’ scenarios and to standardise a scenario, for example for use in exams. However, there are limitations to its usefulness because of the cost implications and the lack of evidence that it results in demonstrable behaviour change.

Keywords: virtual reality, Medical Education, antibiotic stewardship, Communication Skills, Antibacterial resistance

Received: 08 Nov 2017; Accepted: 07 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Sanjay P. Zodpey, Public Health Foundation of India, India

Reviewed by:

Armin D. Weinberg, Baylor College of Medicine, United States
Muni Rubens, Florida International University, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Fertleman, Aubugeau-Williams, Sher, Lim, Lumley, Delacroix and Pan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Caroline Fertleman, UCL Medical School, London, United Kingdom,