Medical and dental students devote several years to the acquisition of sufficient psychomotor skills to prepare them for entry-level surgical practice. They usually rely on traditional training methods such as practicing on mannequins or on live patients. After a training session, instructors assess procedure outcomes based on subjective measures. These traditional methods of skill training and assessment, however, have limitations such as the lack of challenging patient cases, limited availability of expert supervision, and the limited level of detail in human expert assessments. In addition, practice on live patients poses ethical concerns.
To address these issues, Bangkok University has collaborated with Thammasat University and Mahidol University to produce a surgical training system that provides a simulated yet realistic virtual reality (VR) environment with haptic (touch) feedback. With this system, students are able to practice procedures without need for expert supervision and at little or no incremental cost. The system can monitor important features of the procedure, objectively assess the quality of the performed procedure, and provide feedback on the student's performance. Incorporated with the system is an intelligent training module that allows students to practice procedures with varying levels of guidance.