Network of the National Library of Medicine New England Region (NNLM NER) Repository

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Computer Sciences | Library and Information Science | Medical Education | Public Health


Objective: The project adopted technology that teaches medical and other health professions students to be empathetic with older adults, through virtual reality (VR) software that allows them to simulate being a patient with age-related diseases, and to familiarize medical students with information resources related to the health of older adults.

Methods: The project uses an application that creates immersive VR experiences for training of the workforce for aging services. Users experience age-related conditions such as macular degeneration and high-frequency hearing loss from the patient's perspective. Librarians and faculty partner to integrate the experience into the curriculum, and students go to the library at their convenience to do the VR assignment.

Results: The project successfully introduced an innovative new teaching modality to the medical, physician assistant, physical therapy, and nursing curricula. Results show that VR enhanced students' understanding of age-related health problems and increased their empathy for older adults with vision and hearing loss or Alzheimer's disease.

Conclusion: VR immersion training is an effective teaching method to help medical and health professions students develop empathy and is a budding area for library partnerships. As the technology becomes more affordable and accessible, it is important to develop best practices for using VR in the library.


virtual reality, medical education, teaching, empathy, older adults, libraries, library services

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Copyright : © 2018, Authors. Articles in this journal are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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J Med Libr Assoc. 2018 Oct;106(4):498-500. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2018.518. Epub 2018 Oct 1. Link to article on publisher's site

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Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA


This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, under cooperative agreement UG4LM012347-01 with the University of Massachusetts, Worcester.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.