Simulation and virtual reality in medical education and therapy: A protocol

Michael J. Roy*, Deborah L. Sticha, Patricia L. Kraus, Dale E. Olsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Continuing medical education has historically been provided primarily by didactic lectures, though adult learners prefer experiential or self-directed learning. Young physicians have extensive experience with computer-based or "video" games, priming them for medical education-and treating their patients-via new technologies. We report our use of standardized patients (SPs) to educate physicians on the diagnosis and treatment of biological and chemical warfare agent exposure. We trained professional actors to serve as SPs representing exposure to biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox. We rotated workshop participants through teaching stations to interview, examine, diagnose and treat SPs. We also trained SPs to simulate a chemical mass casualty (MASCAL) incident Workshop participants worked together to treat MASCAL victims, followed by discussion of key teaching points. More recently, we developed computer-based simulation (CBS) modules of patients exposed to biological agents. We compare the strengths and weaknesses of CBS vs. live SPs. Finally, we detail plans for a randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy of virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy compared to pharmacotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is associated with significant disability and healthcare costs, which may be ameliorated by the identification of more effective therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-247
Number of pages3
JournalCyberpsychology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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