Experiences with a simulated learning environment - the SimuScape©: Virtual environments in medical education
INTRODUCTION: Simulation as a tool for medical education has gained considerable importance in the past years. Various studies have shown that the mastering of basic skills happens best if taught in a realistic and workplace-based context. It is necessary that simulation itself takes place in the realistic background of a genuine clinical or in an accordingly simulated learning environment. METHODS: A panoramic projection system that allows the simulation of different scenarios has been created at the medical school of the Westphalian Wilhelms-University Muenster/Germany. The SimuScape© is a circular training room of six meters in diameter and has the capacity to generate pictures or moving images as well as the corresponding background noises for medical students, who are then able to interact with simulated patients inside a realistic environment. RESULTS: About 1,000 students have been instructed using the SimuScape© in the courses of emergency medicine, family medicine and anesthesia. The SimuScape©, with its 270 -panoramic projection, gives the students the impression "of being right in the center of action". It is a flexible learning environment that can be easily integrated into curricular teaching and which is in full operation for 10 days per semester. CONCLUSION: The SimuScape© allows the establishment of new medical areas outside the hospital and surgery for simulation and it is an extremely adaptable and cost-effective utilization of a lecture room. In this simulated environment it is possible to teach objectives like self-protection and patient care during disturbing environmental influences in practice.