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Simulated patients and virtual reality used to help students and medical professionals

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Amarillo, TX - Two different technologies are helping area Nursing students prepare for real life situations.

They breathe, they blink and they simulate real world patients for Amarillo College, WT and Texas Tech Health Science Center Nursing students and now even current physicians.

These simulated patients are being used more and more.

Especially with doctors who may come across a unique situation in the Operating Room and want to study it afterwards.

"We can recreate LIVE events, we can recreate patient status or patient conditions they may not see very often," said John Smoot who is the Director at SiMCentral.

Also, in the past few months SiMCentral has tried out virtual reality.

"We've had some interest by faculty at AC, WT, and Texas Tech to find a way to create simulations that were otherwise difficult to recreate in real life, so we ventured into virtual reality," Guy Gilbert who is the Assistant Director at SiMCentral said.

With the virtual reality they have created a hospital, a clinic and a home setting for students to train in.

"Nursing has used it for patient prioritization, there haven't been many times a Nursing student could actually prioritize four or five patients at a time and this will actually put those students in a situation where they'll have to prioritize the care that's given to their simulated patients," explained Gilbert.

And if a doctor needs a second opinion on a diagnosis on one of their cases, they can create a virtual version of the patient and then doctors from anywhere in the world can use their avatars to meet up in the virtual world and discuss the situation.

"There's a way for us to plug in videos, photographs, audio anything that would tied into the situation, so if they have a heart arrhythmia we can actually plug that audio into the virtual world," Gilbert said.

All this technology is helping medical students become more comfortable before they head out into the field and current doctors better assist the patients they see everyday.