Radiation Therapy Students Use Virtual Reality Training (VERT)
Students in the Radiation Therapy bachelor's degree program in the Department of Radiologic Sciences at Jefferson School of Health Professions are now encouraged to make something they once dreaded — mistakes. Before they embark on their clinical rotation, where one wrong move might harm a patient, they'll slip on 3D goggles and simulate various procedures using cutting-edge virtual reality software called Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training (VERT).
Jefferson is one of three schools in the U.S. – and the only one on the east coast – to use VERT. The new technology allows students to practice controlling all three linear accelerator models they'll encounter in hospitals. Using replica control panels, they'll position the virtual patient and deliver a targeted dose of radiation. The software allows them to see the impact of the beam (which is invisible in real life) on the patient's internal anatomy.
Matthew Marquess, MBA, BS, RT(T), program director for radiation therapy, believes the software package is an investment in patient safety. "I'm a soul believer that making mistakes is the best education for students," he says. "Because when they come across that situation, a red flag is going to pop up." Marquess says VERT increases students' hands-on training time. "We're hoping that by using this equipment in the classroom setting, they'll go into the clinic with more confidence," he says.
In addition to radiation therapists, VERT will be used to train medical dosimetrists. Marquess also hopes to collaborate closely with the Bodine Center for Radiation Oncology in the future.
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Jefferson University Hospitals