Explore the expanding role of virtual reality in medical education

Some of the biggest strides in engaging medical education are being made thanks to virtual reality, and CHEST 2021 will present the latest developments in that field.

The plenary session The Future Is Present: Immersive Virtual Reality in Medical Education, on Tuesday, October 19, from 4:00 pm to 5:05 pm CT, will offer a look at a recent VR pilot program developed by CHEST. The instructional program, in partnership with VR company Lumeto and faculty at the Mayo Clinic, New York University, and Wake Forest University, recreated intubation scenarios in a virtual ICU suite. In these scenarios, faculty members used computers to control the simulation for students who interacted through VR headsets.

CHEST 2021 attendees can expect to see a demo of the technology and a panel discussion about the future of VR and medical education. A virtual exhibit booth will offer attendees the chance to ask questions and learn more about the potential for partnering with CHEST to offer similar learning activities at their institutions.

Although virtual reality isn’t a brand-new area for CHEST—the college has offered VR educational experiences focused on asthma and laryngoscopy at previous annual meetings—the recent intubation program stands out in a significant way: it was an Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved project at each of the three institutions.

“There’s going to be real research outcomes that we’re going to publish based on this work,” said CHEST Senior Director of Program Development Robb Rabito, CHCP, who will also take part in the discussion session.

Rabito and CHEST Senior Instructional Designer Madeline Lee, MS, CMI, worked closely on the intubation program, which they say showcases the rapid advancement of VR technology as an educational aid.

“It is a much bigger and better experience,” Lee said. “In the past couple of years, the VR headset has been evolving. It’s becoming lighter, faster, better resolution, and they are capable of much more.”

The biggest benefits of VR over traditional simulations are its immersive nature and cost-effectiveness, Lee and Rabito said. As long as a participant has a headset and an internet connection, they could be wearing their pajamas at home, Lee noted. All other parts of the environment—anything needed to raise or lower the stakes, for example—can be added or removed easily based on the training curriculum.

“You no longer need a physical space reserved for a health care team to come and work together in a low-risk education environment,” Rabito said. “You can have people in different locations, different places across the country, working together as a team on a case.”

More developments are likely on the horizon, driven in part by feedback and research from programs like the one organized by CHEST. And, although it won’t replace other models of education, it will be a valuable tool in the toolbox for CHEST and its member clinicians, Rabito said.

“It is the future,” he added. “If we consider ourselves an educational organization that improves practice and patient outcomes, then VR definitely has a place in that. We’re eager to use that tool to achieve our mission.”




Immerse yourself in the experience of CHEST 2021! Your registration includes hundreds of sessions presented by our top faculty and featured speakers, live discussions with the experts, interactive gaming, and much more. Even better, you’ll have access to everything (including post-meeting bonus content) until October 2022!