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ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:559–562 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Abstract

Objectives:  Oral examination is a method used to evaluate emergency medicine (EM) residents and is a requirement for board certification of emergency physicians. Second Life (SL) is a virtual three-dimensional (3-D) immersive learning environment that has been used for medical education. In this study we explore the use of SL virtual simulation technology to administer mock oral examinations to EM residents.

Methods:  This was a prospective observational study of EM residents who had previously completed mock oral examinations, participating in a similar mock oral examination case scenario conducted via SL. EM residents in this training program completed mock oral examinations in a traditional format, conducted face to face with a faculty examiner. All current residents were invited to participate in a similar case scenario conducted via SL for this study. The examinee managed the case while acting as the physician avatar and communicated via headset and microphone from a remote computer with a faculty examiner who acted as the patient avatar. Participants were surveyed regarding their experience with the traditional and virtual formats using a Likert scale.

Results:  Twenty-seven EM residents participated in the virtual oral examination. None of the examinees had used SL previously. SL proved easy for examinees to log into (92.6%) and navigate (96.3%). All felt comfortable communicating with the examiner via remote computer. Most examinees thought the SL encounter was realistic (92.6%), and many found it more realistic than the traditional format (70.3%). All examinees felt that the virtual examination was fair, objective, and conducted efficiently. A majority preferred to take oral examinations via SL over the traditional format and expressed interest in using SL for other educational experiences (66.6 and 92.6%, respectively).

Conclusions:  Application of SL virtual simulation technology is a potential alternative to traditional mock oral examinations for EM residents.