Evaluating an Automated Haptic Simulator Designed for Veterinary Students to Learn Bovine Rectal Palpation


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Abstract

Introduction:Simulators provide a potential solution to some of the challenges faced when teaching internal examinations to medical or veterinary students. A virtual reality simulator, the Haptic Cow, has been developed to teach bovine rectal palpation to veterinary students, and significant training benefits have been demonstrated. However, the training needs to be delivered by an instructor, a requirement that limits availability. This article describes the development and evaluation of an automated version that students could use on their own.Methods:An automated version was developed based on a recording of an expert's examination. The performance of two groups of eight students was compared. All students had undergone the traditional training in the course, namely lectures and laboratory practicals, and then group S used the simulator whereas group R had no additional training. The students were set the task of finding the uterus when examining cows. The simulator was then made available to students, and feedback about the “usability” was gathered with a questionnaire.Results:The group whose training had been supplemented with a simulator session were significantly better at finding the uterus. The questionnaire feedback was positive and indicated that students found the simulator easy to use.Conclusions:The automated simulator equipped students with useful skills for examining cows. In addition, a simulator that does not need the presence of an instructor will increase the availability of training for students and be a more sustainable option for institutions.

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