Do you feel like a vet?

Image © Diamond Light Source Ltd Virtual farm visit role play: A member of staff acts as a farmer while the students must think and behave as vets during pregnancy diagnosis scenarios. (Image © Mr Peter Nunn)

Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College have developed a series of unique virtual reality simulators using touch technology. The simulators enable veterinary students to practice procedures and receive feedback in a safe environment before they work with real animals.

The technology allows students to palpate and feel virtual models such as a cat's kidney or a horse's digestive track. Computer games have also been generated to help students improve their motor skills and ability to feel and identify subtle differences in virtual objects. The skills are then transferable to their work in the veterinary field.

"Research has shown simulator training benefits students, improving their performance during the real task," says Dr. Sarah Baillie from The Royal Veterinary College. "The virtual models are situated inside or superimposed on physical models to make the experience more real for the students."

The models also measure aspects of the techniques the students are using, for example the pressure they are exerting, and provide feedback to help improve their performance.

"On our cow simulator, if a student presses too hard, the cow will moo. It teaches students the some of the hands- on skills they need before they even examine real animals," says Sarah.

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