Vets to be trained with virtual operations

Prospective vets no longer need to enter a veterinary surgery for clinical training – even before stepping into the operation theatre, veterinary students can now get a feel of the instruments, sterilisation techniques and patient preparation. All this has been made possible by an interactive device – the 'Virtual Veterinary Surgery' (VVS) – designed by Glenn Edwards, associate professor and his colleagues at the faculty of veterinary science of Melbourne University and the Educational Technology Services. 'What we have created is a virtual operating theatre, an interactive programme for teaching the principles of surgery,' said Edwards. If successful, the model is likely to be replicated elsewhere.

The VVS is designed to be integrated with the undergraduate veterinary science course for second year students. A total of 120 students each year enter the programme and must pass the related assessment tasks before they are permitted into the operating theatre for clinical training. After logging on via the learning management system, students find themselves gazing into a panoramic view of a fully equipped operating theatre, complete with the sounds of a ventilation machine. By using the menu or clicking on the contents of the operating room – such as the surgeon, a piece of equipment or the canine patient – students are taken into the related study unit. These study units cover areas such as surgical etiquette and how the operating team works together, equipment and patient preparation and post-operative care, said a Melbourne release. The programme's visuals have been recorded mainly from real cases at the University's Veterinary Clinic and Hospital over the past two years. The site design was supported by a project grant from the Coursework Design and Development Programme from the University. The educational content was produced in assistance with the Educational Technology Services, led by David Adam.

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