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A virtual toothache helps student dentists
Date:7/21/2008

Victoroff enlisted virtual reality experts and Art and Sciences' communication disorder scientists Stacy Williams, who directs the Virtual Immersion Center for Simulation Research (VICSR), and Kyra Rothenberg, director of the health communications minor.

They will take three approaches to simulated communications traininglive actors, the immersion theater where students interact with a virtual patient in a 180-degree surround theater and with avatars, like Masha, in Second Life.

Of the three simulation methods, Victoroff is interested in using the immersion theater and Second Life. She noted that paper-based, live actors and real patients present limitations from ethical issues to logistical challenges. Meanwhile, the interactive theater and Second Life have capabilities to assess competencies in a convenient, standardized and cost-effective situation.

According to Victoroff, if successful, the virtual scenarios in an immersion theater setting or the online Second Life community might provide a potentially better way of assessing a student's abilities to communicate with patients than the current multiple-choice questions on the national examinations required for practicing professionally.

During spring semester, 70 students in the third-year dental class participated in a pilot study to develop their communication skills with live actors and virtual patients during communication skills training at the Mt. Sinai Skills and Simulation Center at the Veterans Administration Hospital.

The research project focuses on developing scenarios that aid and test students in taking patient histories, providing oral health education like tobacco cessation counseling for smokers, explaining procedures, talking about healthcare options and obtaining informed consent, and working through situations that present ethical dilemmas. These are among the competencies outlined by the American Dental Education Association.

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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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