Bond University is one of the only universities worldwide to offer its medical students a 'virtual hospital' as part of an integrated healthcare simulation program.
The virtual hospital is an app-based platform, which includes an array of case studies complete with medical history and symptoms, allowing students to simulate patient care by providing a virtual diagnosis and treatment plan, as part of a treating clinical team.
The Bond Virtual Hospital is located at Robina Hospital and is predominantly ‘staffed’ by medical students and their supervisors, but last year successfully added occupational therapy (OT) students to the program.
The innovative technology is complemented by real-life simulations, which include actors in a hospital environment who present with symptoms that students must diagnose and then 'treat' under the watch of Bond University professors and medical staff.
Both the virtual hospital and real life simulations are giving medical, OT and physiotherapy students a head start in their learning, with the opportunity to experience 'hands-on' patient care in their third and subsequent years.
Bond University Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of Simulation, Dr Victoria Brazil – also a Senior Emergency Physician with Gold Coast Health – says the aim of the hybrid simulation program is to create realistic situations to allow students to build their confidence in a hospital environment.
"The aim is to recreate patient care situations, where students not only learn how to apply their knowledge but also gain a better understanding of how to effectively communicate with a patient and work as part of a medical team," she said.
"It also allows us to focus on key issues in care like patient safety, clinical handover and reflective practice and working within Gold Coast Health’s tertiary facilities is additionally beneficial for students.
"Bond introduces this type of teaching in the third year, which means students have almost two years of simulated patient care by the time they step into a real hospital for the practical component of their degree, which gives them a great advantage and ensures they are 'work ready'.
"Through the virtual hospital app and simulated care, students face a range of medical challenges, including everything from a heart attack, serious trauma, surgery preparation, mental health and children's health issues, so they become well versed in working with people of all ages in a variety of circumstances.
"Patients always respond best to a calm and confident doctor or nurse, so the focus is not only on the medical treatment but also the students' bedside manner and how they handle any unexpected scenarios
"We continue these simulations with fourth and fifth year medical students to complement the experience they are gaining in a hospital environment and to provide more challenging situations as they advance towards the end of their degree and employment."