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VR Gives UBC Okanagan Students a Glimpse into Operating Room

Latest course aims to raise the safety and proficiency of operation theatres. A new virtual reality (VR) based clinical engineering course at UBC Okanagan is aiming to enhance the safety and efficiency standards of operations. It requires students to wear VR headsets and take a closer look at surgeries without having to physically be in an operating room. Several of the institution’s students are using the VR setup to gain first-person perspectives of surgical procedures.

Sabine Weyand, an instructor at the UBC Okanagan School of Engineering, spoke on the subject of the development. She emphasised that most individuals are unaware of clinical engineering even though it has a direct impact on them in operating room scenarios. Weyand remarked that she and her co-engineers are focused on making operations as efficient and speedy as possible.

Weyand drew a comparison between surgical procedures and sophisticated choreographed dance performances, as both have specific requirements and specific roles for people to play. According to her, clinical engineers are tasked with the precise analysis of all the surgical steps, covering aspects ranging from surgical tools, positioning, interactions and the layout of lighting. Weyand pointed out that everything is broken down and inspected with the goal of enhancing surgical process mechanics and patient care.

Students of UBC Okanagan can view three different surgery variations as part of the VR-based course. Donning the VR googles they can delve into features like a robot-assisted knee replacement, a hip replacement procedure, and a transforaminal lumbar inter-body fusion back procedure.

Image source: Simlab IT

Weyand revealed that the Interior Health Authority’s experts were instrumental in helping her team formulating the course content and refining the VR labs. She remarked that her goals were to make the experience as close to reality as possible and to give students clarity regarding the practical design challenges they might come across whilst at the institution. Weyand elaborated further, stating that students of the clinical engineering course were exposed to a great number of treatment and diagnostic tools, clinical environments, and the convoluted aspects of regulatory needs and human elements related to surgical processes.

Hafsa Khan, one of the participating students of the course, stressed that students find the analysis reports complicated as they need to access anatomical and medical vocabulary to gain surgical understanding. Khan said that the challenge is considerable, but the experience is rewarding as it lets students step out from the environs of their labs and discover ways of improving surgical procedures.

Aaron Miller, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Interior Health Authority, expressed that the current crop of clinical engineering students does require on-demand access to advanced technology and up-to-date information. He added that VR-based operating room monitoring features are offering  first-hand experiences to students, who get observe how different healthcare professionals function and care for patients. According to Miller, students that can comprehend the requirements of healthcare professionals, are more proficient in assisting healthcare units and enhancing patient conditions. Khan believes that the VR course may propel her towards a biomedical engineering career.

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