I should have played more computer games as a kid

A not insignificant amount of time ago, I ventured into the world of Second Life, to see what it had to offer for universities and medical education.  Not only did I discover that I was hopeless at flying, but I also found that getting dressed was no easy matter and for some time I was close to wandering around starkers.


Notwithstanding the challenges I had a gander around the brave new world of avatars and found the Ann Myers Medical Centre. It was inspirational. At that time they provided lectures, events & training tools in areas of psychology, oncology, gastroenterology, general practice and surgery.

Today, I ventured back to have a look and it has to be said although second life has also progressed, the world of avatars is as wierd and wonderful as ever.  On login I have no idea where I am.  Some avatar called ‘Rhys’ wants a chat:

  • Rhys: hello
  • Me: hi, am i near the ann myers hospital?
  • Rhys: i don’t know that hospital

I decide me and Rhys have had enough of a chat and attempt to fly to get an idea of where I am but it seems I am geographically challenged even in second life, so I use the Ann Myers Medical Centre teleport link and Voila! I have arrived.

There are notices around the place you can click on if you need more information. Within the AMMC you receive a welcome message and guidance on navigating the building:

“On the floor you see a green line if you follow it you see a yellow and red line branching off it.  The green line guides you from psychiatry, general practice, diabetes, leukemia, oncology to the women health centre.  When you follow the green path and enter the clinics/departments you can find some pretty amazing creations.”

Clearly the centre has expanded and there is plenty to see and do, but the limitations are still much the same as they were two years ago – limitations of second life not the centre.

AMMC was created for the virtual training for First Life medical and nursing students. I cannot vouch for the quality or level of the medical education, but what I did want to look at were the possibilities second life has to offer for medical education today.

I would say, there are still significant difficulties – learning to move, interact and navigate with the equipment and information is still cumbersome, but as a virtual structure the AMMC has shown what can be done, not only in building the centre but also in collaborating with different educators in different languages across the globe.

The AMMC say they would like

  • To assist students to become more proficient in initial exam history and physicals.
  • A second aspect to the history and physical is to train students to truly care for their patients.
  • Link telemetric builds (ECG, oxygen saturation machines, etc.) to real-time outputs via URLs so that a students will be taken to a URL, where they will have to accurately diagnose the medical issue through analysis of telemetric outputs.
  • Train students in the analysis of MRI s, CT and X-rays.

It will be interesting to know how close the AMMC are to achieving their aims and student uptake. AMMC currently has a voluntary staff consisting of Psychologists, Hematologists, Oncologists, Radiologists, Cardiologists, Midwives, Emergency and Trauma Specialists, general physicians, interns, educators and several nurses.