Can We Walk in Our Patients’ Shoes?

Immersive Virtual Reality as an Empathy Training Tool for Medical Students

Drop-In Friday Event with Riham Alieldin, MD, MSc

Riham Alieldin

Owing to its ability to immerse its user in a sensory real-life experience, immersive virtual reality (IVR) has been proposed in literature as a promising technology for medical empathy training by allowing its users to virtually “step into the patients’ shoes”. Given that perspective-taking is a core component of empathy, it is not surprising that VR experiences have been shown in literature to enhance empathy in its users by enabling them to embody another person in a virtual realistic environment.

This talk will provide an overview of a research project that was done to examine the role of IVR in teaching clinical empathy to medical students at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. In this research project, first-year medical students experience a user-focused VR scenario using the Embodied labs platform from a first-person perspective. A scenario that focuses on loneliness and social isolation in elderly patients and their effect on their health outcomes is used for this project. The IVR training focuses on key strategies of empathy and empathic communication that involve recognizing patients’ emotions, the importance of eliciting a shared understanding of the patient’s experiences and responding empathically to patients.

The talk will describe the VR software platform that was used and will share some of the students’ feedback on the training. Additionally, the talk will outline the role of VR in health professionals’ education in current the literature as well as provide a glimpse into the limitless possibilities afforded by XR/VR technologies in medical education and patient care.

Dr. Alieldin is a physician and a medical educator whose expertise lies in teaching and designing curricula for health professionals. She was involved in the educational reform process of her medical school by implementing new medical curricula, providing professional development opportunities to the medical faculty, and working with her school’s accreditation teams. She is currently an adjunct faculty at the Warner School of Education and enjoys teaching graduate students in the master’s in health professionals’ education degree program.  

Dr. Alieldin obtained her master’s degree in health professionals’ education at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester in 2015 and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the same university. Her research focuses on the evaluation of the transfer and acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, or skills in medical education to produce physicians who are prepared to serve the fundamental purposes of medicine and patient care.  

Dr. Alieldin is keen on providing relevant, meaningful, and interactive learning experiences to her students as she believes that providing a safe and efficient health care service to our community starts by building a sound educational system for its health professionals. 

Where: Studio X & Zoom
When: Friday, November 12th at 1pm