Columbus, OH,
16:47 PM

360 Degree Video to Give Medical Students First Hand Trauma Experience


Imagine being a medical student. You’ve sat in class and you’ve read countless textbooks. You’ve spent hours studying and taking tests. Maybe you’ve even watched medical dramas on TV. But now it’s finally time for you to go into a hospital and experience patient care first hand. You’re ready, right?

That first trip into a trauma bay or operating room can be intimidating. Medical professionals moving around, all with a critical job to do. A patient is laying on the gurney, scared and in pain following a car crash.  Maybe they're even unconscious. And you’re right there in the middle of it. Suddenly you seem to have forgotten everything you’ve learned.

“I’ve seen people panic and be frozen,” says Shay O’Mara, MD, medical director of trauma services at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center. “It can be completely confusing and the situations can be terrible. It helps to have at least had some sort of simulated experience beforehand.”

Eric Williams, the co-creator of the Immersive Media Initiative and associate professor in media arts and studies at Ohio University in Athens, had an idea. What if medical students could go behind the scenes at a hospital first and really experience it, without physically being there?

With immersive media and virtual reality, they can do just that.

“It really allows the viewer to step into an actual location,” says Eric. “Imagine if you are a surgeon in an operating room. You can now have 100 medical students looking ‘over your shoulder.’ Not only that, they can look beyond where a traditional camera wants you to look – they’re able to look in literally every direction, plus have360 degree

 audio. You can hear the monitors behind you, someone talking across you. You can look up an

d see the monitor. All of that is possible in immersive media.

Eric and his team of students from Ohio University, as well as Dr. Petra Williams, assistant professor in the department of physical therapy at Northern Arizona University, recently spent a day in the trauma bay at Grant. They set up their 360 degree cameras to capture every angle of the trauma bay. They then stitched the video clips together into one file. When the medical student views the footage using special goggles, they can see the room from any direction.

“We can use this new technology in a more powerful way to educate our students to be ready to enter high-risk, high-intensity healthcare situations that have low tolerance for error,” says Dr. Williams.

“Medical students think they are ready for intense real life situations and they get in those real life situations and they freeze or they forget,” says Eric. “So the idea is, how do you acclimate students to that level of realism? This is one of those steps to get them ready. Go spend 20 minutes in the heat of a trauma situation. We’d eventually like to shoot in the back of an ambulance or in a helicopter, just to simulate what those experiences are like.”

“The transition into a clinical site often takes time for a medical student to get up to speed quickly,” says Dr. Williams. “We want to use this immersive technology which gives you that physical presence in a place they haven’t been. But can we also facilitate their transition in competence? To begin to train their eyes and ears in real situations where they can being to develop their competence sooner and faster.”

Medical students at OU will begin using the videos this school year as part of their education. And Eric says this is just the beginning of ways this technology can be used.

“We are figuring it out and it’s great that we are figuring it out with OhioHealth.”

The team at Grant is excited to be involved with a project that is helping to educate the next generation of physicians.

“This is sort of the next generation of educational materials,” says Dr. O’Mara. “We always talk about 'how do we orient people to the chaos of the trauma bay without putting them in the middle of it and being involved in patient care before they ever even seen it.' This gives us the opportunity to allow people to see what is happening in a chaotic situation without being in the way or putting anyone at risk. This is just a fantastic experience. We can’t wait to see the final product.”