Tejas Labhshetwar, Founder of Gyanberry, Dr Pankaj Lamba, Clinical Assistant Professor & Clinical Phase Director of MD Programme at Gulf Medical University (GMU), and Dr Rawad Hodeify, Associate Professor of Medical Biotechnology, American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK), during a panel discussion on the second day of Edufair Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/ Gulf News

The latest advancements in technology and innovative teaching and assessment methods are now coming to the fore as universities ensure students are ready for the changes in the healthcare sector, highlighted panelists at a session titled, Innovation in science education for tomorrow’s career, on the second day of Gulf News Edufair.

“Science education is transitioning from a knowledge-acquisition approach to a more personalised and skill-based learning experience. This new approach emphasises critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and an interdisciplinary perspective,” said Dr Rawad Hodeify, Associate Professor of Medical Biotechnology, American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK).

“Instead of focusing solely on specialised topics, students are encouraged to integrate their knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to address real-world problems,” he explained.

This evolution is reflected in the curriculum changes in universities, which now aim to equip the new generation of healthcare professionals with the skills to navigate the complexities of healthcare systems.

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Immersive technologies in healthcare education

In healthcare education, the integration of virtual reality and augmented reality has become increasingly vital. “These technologies provide medical students with a safe environment to practice clinical skills, enhancing competencies of young doctors and overall patient safety,” said Dr Pankaj Lamba, Clinical Assistant Professor & Clinical Phase Director of MD Programme at Gulf Medical University (GMU).

“We adopt these advancements to develop future doctors into critical thinkers who can effectively apply a wealth of information available to them and improve patient care,” Dr Lamba said.

GMU adopts an AI-driven virtual patient learning from the first year of medical education.

“This hands-on approach helps improve our students’ skills and confidence in real-life patient care. This exposure also helps students understand how to use data science and big data to enhance patient care. A key pillar of today's medical programme is teaching students to apply data and AI ethically and professionally to improve the quality of patient care,” Dr Lamba explained.

Meanwhile, Tejas Labhshetwar, Founder of Gyanberry, a platform that helps students apply to medical universities across the world, explained how universities globally are using immersive technologies to improve student learning experiences.

“Traditionally, students had to visit the anatomy department and work with cadavers, which can be uncomfortable for many when encountering cadavers for the first time. With the new anatomical simulation tables, students can interact with a touchscreen that allows them to explore each organ in detail, drawing connections with theoretical learning,” said Labhshetwar.

Nowadays, universities are investing heavily in AI and VR technologies in anatomical simulations for MBBS courses, and this trend is notably gaining traction in universities in the Czech Republic, a popular destination for healthcare studies for students from the UAE. “Universities like Charles University and Masaryk University have made significant investments in simulation-based training for the first two years of MBBS. This prepares students for clinical training in their third year, helping them to be mentally prepared and know what to expect during the training,” Labhshetwar said, adding, ”Universities in other European countries are also forthcoming in integrating immersive tech in their curricula.”

Changes in assessment in medical studies

Dr Lamba from GMU highlighted a long-standing concern among healthcare educators that has driven significant upgrades in assessment mechanisms for medical competence and performance.

“To address the common issue of young doctors lacking confidence and readiness when they start practising medicine, nowadays our programmes include thorough assessments to verify their readiness for practice. This is to ensure that graduates are trusted to perform critical tasks for patients competently, bridging the gap between education and practical application,” pointed out Dr Lamba.