Everyone wants a doctor with experience but, when it comes to prostate exams, no one wants to be a practice dummy. Introducing Patrick, the virtual patient that takes clumsy rookie resident fingers so you don’t have to.
This embarrassingly compromised medical device is equipped with sensitive sensors that can measure where a person’s fingers are wandering inside of the unholiest of places and even measure how much pressure they are using to examine the very realistic goods.
I’m not sure practicing with Patrick truly prepares residents for the inevitable awkwardness, but the creators have also built a little small talk into the virtual patient’s software to make the real unpleasant experience easier for everyone when that day comes.
One of the development team members Dr. Benjamin Lok says the whole process reduces the high cost of training while still enabling the system to “provide a realistic encounter” to both prepare doctors and “reduce anxiety generating interactions.” Next time it happens to you (if it hasn’t, it will), take some comfort in knowing, it’s not exactly a picnic for the guy on the other end either.
It is relief and a privilege to live in a day and age where virtual reality patients and simulators are the first stop for the next generation of healthcare workers. Anything that puts something more realistic than images in a text book between my vital organs and a greenhorn, works for me.
When the machines do finally rise up against us, don’t think they’re going to forget about Patrick – there will be retribution and it won’t likely be gentle.