New Health Education Campus Offers Immersive Medical Training

Advanced learning technology augments traditional learning to help students become confident healthcare providers

The Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic is designed to facilitate innovative thinking about some of the most complex issues in health care. Working with the latest technology, including digital anatomy lessons and medical simulations, students will develop the skills they need to thrive in their respective fields.

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“When I walk through [the] Health Education Campus—when I take a look at the interactive classrooms, the big screens, the digital bar that helps you solve all your tech problems—I wish I could go back to that school again because it looks nothing like the med school that I attended,” states Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, MD.

Located on the corner of East 93rd Street between Chester and Euclid Avenues, the Sheila and Erica Samson Pavilion (the campus’s main building) is among the first fully integrated health education structures nationwide. The building has 26 state-of-the-future classrooms, all equipped with digital technology and touchscreen capability to enhance learning. There is a 4,800-square-foot lecture hall with a 40-foot-high LED video wall, and a 7,000-square-foot auditorium. Additionally, there are 56 small group rooms, each with a 7-foot touch-enabled display.

Exploring anatomy through virtual and mixed-reality curriculum

The new Health Education Campus will be cadaver-free. Students from CWRU’s dental, medical and nursing schools will learn anatomy in realistic and transferable ways, through virtual and/or mixed reality devices. Using Microsoft HoloLens and CWRU-developed curriculum, medical students in the school’s university program will learn anatomy by viewing 3D holograms of the entire body, including its different systems and organs. Students will be able to look inside organs from any angle, and investigate how different diseases and injuries affect different body parts. First- and second-year Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine students will learn anatomy and experience the clinical environment through a virtual reality anatomy curriculum developed in partnership with Zygote Medical Education. The Zygote program includes a virtual anatomy lab, in which students will collaborate on practical clinical case studies with peers from around the world.

“Technology is transforming […] not only the way that healthcare is being delivered; it is also transforming the way that we learn about healthcare. The explosion of knowledge in healthcare is difficult to comprehend by a single person using the traditional means, but we are also leveraging technology to teach our students more effectively,” Dr. Mihaljevic says. “That technology includes HoloLens, which allows the 3D images of, let’s say, human anatomy for better understanding of how human body works, functions and how it’s essentially organized, but that’s just one example of very many different technologies that are going to be available to our students.”

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Immersive learning environment is a low-risk way to increase situational experience

The Medical Simulation Center contains 20 exam rooms and four acute care spaces, each featuring cameras and microphones for training and recording. The center also offers a Physician Assessment Teaching Lab, a Clinical Teaching Bed Lab, a Flight Nursing Simulator and Critical Care Transport spaces.

“The world of simulation has changed dramatically and improved for students. As a teaching tool, simulators are far more sophisticated today,” Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder said. “You can do a simulated ultrasound on a mannequin. That doesn’t do it justice; it’s really a computer that looks very much like a person. You can have the experience of doing an ultrasound and making a diagnostic judgment with it being completely simulated. It’s pretty remarkable.”

Added President Snyder: “Then of course we have our flight nursing program and the opportunity to create very real-life simulations with these mannequins, with ‘landing’ in the helicopter from a remote site, taking the ‘patient’ … off and into the hospital and providing care all along the way, which is exactly what happens in a real-life situation.”

The simulation is not a replacement for hands-on practice, but will supplement traditional practical learning. Virtual and mixed reality learning appeals to all types of learners: audio, visual and kinesthetic.

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“The simulation centers […] and the technology associated with [them], allow us now to learn in a space and at a time that we can dictate, adds Dr. Mihaljevic. Students will learn “in a way that is much more predictable, one that truly allows people to master techniques and procedures in ways that are going to then translate immediately into better patient care.”

“This is this pioneering role that we here in Cleveland have. We can have it because we have such a great collaboration [with CWRU]. […The] organizations breathe with a similar culture and ethos and, quite frankly, an aspiration to make a difference.”