Medical Students Invent New Way to Study
Anthony Betteridge and Nathan Lloyd sit through another lecture; the curriculum material is intense as disease after disease with symptom after symptom is listed off with rapid fire by a professor desperately trying to cover all the material before time expires.
“There has to be a better way to do this,” Lloyd says as he glances at his watch. A middle-school science teacher for years, Lloyd is used to developing curriculum materials and new ways for students to learn. “What if there was a way for us to see all these diseases and symptoms before taking the board exam?” Betteridge responds. A U.S. Air Force pilot from Tacoma, Washington, Betteridge enjoys thinking outside the box.
He partners with Lloyd – both of whom are second-year medical students (entering their third year as of press time) -- to develop a new way to study: virtual reality medicine, or VxMED.
The idea stemmed from their volunteer work at The Free Clinic. “We knew that what we learned (by doing) in the clinic stayed with us longer,” Betteridge said. “We wanted to create that same environment with better accessibility for medical students studying for boards.”
While the possibility of of a company like VxMED seemed engaging, they never expected it to go beyond the talk. After mentioning their idea to a fellow student in the library, they were steered toward the TTU Innovation Hub at Research Park. “We walked across the street and all of a sudden, we had a plan,” Betteridge recalled.
The students prepared hard for the iLaunch competition, where the Innovation Hub grants prize money for the best “next big idea.” VxMED won first place and $10,000, which went toward the prototype. Designed with a 3D virtual gaming software, VxMED puts you in the room with a patient exhibiting symptoms.
“I think the immersive experience can make you more prepared for exams than just memorizing text from textbooks,” Lloyd said. “Maybe you’re not a ‘good test taker,’ but you could be with a different approach to studying.”