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Baptist College acquires new teaching tool with Foundation grant

Beginning in the fall of 2013, radiation therapy students at Baptist College of Health Sciences will have the experience of virtually treating patients.

A grant awarded by the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation will provide Baptist College with the Virtual Environmental Radiotherapy Training system, the latest teaching tool available to colleges and universities. Using rear projection technology and special goggles, VERT creates a three-dimensional environment that replicates a radiation therapy treatment room.

“VERT is going to change the way we teach radiation therapy,” said Julie Lasley, M.S.A., R.T., chair of the radiation therapy program at Baptist College.

Baptist College is one of only 10 sites in the United States and 80 worldwide to have this new teaching technology.

Using actual patient data and life-size graphics, VERT can reproduce almost every scenario virtually in the classroom. Students can take their time to learn and ask questions. The entire treatment process from start to finish can be replicated so students can see the results and discuss what could have been done differently. The VERT system provides students with a safe environment free from time pressures commonly encountered in busy radiation therapy departments.

“Of course, nothing can replace the real world clinical experience and the many issues and illnesses real patients can present,” said Lasley. “But with VERT, we can better prepare our students by allowing them to get hands-on experience in a less intimidating environment before they go into the clinic.”

VERT was developed for radiation therapy education, but the technology can also be used in other imaging majors at the College and even in the biomedical sciences degree.

In addition to VERT, the Foundation grant also provides for the purchase of PEARL, a new and innovative patient education computer program that enhances the ability of radiation oncologists, nurses and therapists to communicate complex treatment planning to patients and their families, thus decreasing anxiety prior to therapy.  With PEARL, clinicians can show patients how their actual treatment is planned and administered.

PEARL will be available at the Baptist Cancer Center in Memphis in late 2013 and at five additional BMHCC locations in 2014.

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