3D visualization table gives students and faculty a new way to learn

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By: Brianna Robinson

A new technology acquired by the Learning Assessment Center is dramatically improving medical education and training for students and faculty across campus.

Serving not only the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the LAC supports MSU’s other health colleges including human medicine, nursing and veterinary medicine and creates realistic clinical experiences for students. This newest addition, the Sectra visualization table, furthers this mission.

“Students are more confident when they go to clinical,” said LAC Director Mary Kay Smith. “We integrate a variety of methods in simulation to facilitate activities including virtual reality, standardized patients, robots or life-size human simulators and partial task trainers.”

By practicing and being assessed in core competencies in a simulated environment, skills can be honed and assessed before entering the real clinical setting, promoting patient safety and quality of care.

For the past several years, Smith and her colleagues have been evaluating tools and technologies in the field of simulation. The Sectra table was acquired due to its impressive visualization and collaboration capabilities.

“Not only can it be used in a face-to-face format, but also in a virtual or online space,” Smith said. “The health colleges purchased the table with assistance from the Teaching and Learning Environment fund.

The Sectra table has a large, interactive medical display screen for students to learn anatomy and explore clinical cases as a team. Using the intuitive multi-touch interface, users can swipe, scroll, zoom, rotate and navigate inside 3D images to piece together different anatomical structures, resulting in an immersive, virtual experience. Large amounts of data such as full-body scans and visual lessons are easily displayed, allowing teachers and students to quickly access and work on real problem-based learning scenarios.

The new technology has proven to be an invaluable educational tool.

“It does promote problem-solving and clinical decision-making so the students can translate that to patient care,” Smith said.

The table also provides both faculty and students with unprecedented flexibility. It is fairly mobile despite its size and can be moved between rooms in the LAC and various learning spaces on campus.

“We can utilize this table not only as a primary modality in courses such as anatomy and physiology, but faculty can also integrate the use of this new technology to augment other clinical simulation activities,” Smith said.

For example, case studies can be imported, bookmarked, annotated or exported as images for notes or lectures. These may be presented before activities or referenced later during debriefing.

She also added that the table’s benefits extend beyond just the health colleges. Other colleges may find that the table is useful for discipline-specific or interprofessional learning, allowing them to explore even greater teaching and learning possibilities in their respective focus areas for the future.

While this new technology has already proven its value, particularly given the current need for more virtual teaching and learning, Smith and other colleagues continue to discover new ways to use the table and how to integrate it even further into the student and faculty experience.