Robot teaches medical school students

August 10, 2006

Wake Forest University School of Medicine students expecting a lecture on the brain and nervous system instead find themselves treating a robotic patient.

The "patient" is known as "SimMan" -- a reproduction of an average-size adult that emits realistic heart, lung, and bowel sounds and which can simulate medical problems that students can treat. Students can also use SimMan to practice procedures such as giving injections and inserting urinary catheters.

Many medical schools use such computerized simulated patients to teach clinical skills, but Wake Forest officials say their school is one of the first to use the technology in large group lecture settings to teach basic science principles.

"Using a 'live' clinical scenario to emphasize basic science learning allows students to understand the clinical relevance of the subjects they are studying," said Dr. Michael Fitch, an emergency medicine specialist who developed the teaching scenario. "What I think is really great about the concept is to create a learning environment that engages the students actively -- as opposed to passively observing a lecture."

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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