Clinical Encounters: Medical School was developed by Clinical Tools, Inc (CTI) with funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Grant #1 R43 AA026474-01). We gratefully acknowledge this support, which was the sole funding source for this project’s development.
Up to half of medical students experience burnout and one in ten experience suicidal ideation. Students may employ coping skills in order to decrease stress or learn to tolerate it. These skills play an important role in preventing and reducing burnout in medical students. Coping mechanisms may be beneficial, harmful, or some combination of the two. Some less healthy coping mechanisms may offer short-term gains, but later become harmful. Sometimes associated harms may not be recognized. While there are some existing efforts at building physician resilience while still in medical school, they are limited and often do not do enough. Medicine needs a scalable, reproducible, comprehensive, standardized solution.
Our unique immersive role-playing sim utilizes the best practice standards, an engaging narrative, and an attractive environment to provide:
- an experience tailored to the general and specific needs and capability of the future or current 3rd-year medical student,
- choice, exploration, challenge, reflection, and intrinsic motivation,
- decision-making opportunities (quick, medium, and slow) with clear consequences,
- collaboration and practice building teams, and
- tailored feedback and positive rewards
To deepen understanding, medical students explore and navigate the learning environment to identify factors and strategies relevant to them. Exploration puts the user in control of the Clinical Encounters: Medical School experience and leads to increased learning and understanding. Control, self-expression, and creativity support a focus on intrinsic motivation. In our role-playing narrative, the medical student navigates spaces including clinical settings. The experience components (challenges, co-users, strength, feedback, and development) mirror elements of an entertainment-focused game. Similarly, users struggle with and conquer challenges, level up, and master skills.
As users progress, their avatar experiences causes of success and frustration (e.g., challenges, ethical dilemmas, demands, poor personal health, sleep disturbance, poor life balance, negative feedback). The sim enhances longer-term decisions, required for behavioral change by letting medical students:
- identify attitudes and perspectives that impact poor choices (e.g., unrealistic expectations),
- prioritize activities that establish balance (leaving aside time for rewarding aspects of life),
- examine decisions and their impact (e.g, sacrificing sleep)
No Industry Support
All materials on this website were developed in an industry-fund-free environment. No industry funding was used to create this website or the simulation experience.
Clinical Tools, and its gaming division Health Impact Studio, strives to share knowledge gained through the testing and use of its products. You can see our latest conference presentations, as well as our published research articles, at the Health Impact Studio site.
During our continued development, we will be focusing Clinical Encounters: Medical School on simulating the pressures one might experience during medical school. Through these simulated experiences, medical students can learn coping mechanisms to overcome and address these sources of stress and help avoid situations that might lead to burnout.
After completion of the project, we envision that Clinical Encounters: Medical School will be sold to student health and wellness centers within the university system, providing a digital support tool for medical students entering and continuing their medical school education. This source of revenue will support any ongoing work needed to refine the product and allow free use for students through their university health systems.
Health Impact Studio
Bradley Tanner, MD, ME
Studio Head, Health Impact Studio
Bradley Tanner, MD, ME is a psychiatrist and Studio Head of Health Impact Studio. In this role, he guides the development and evaluation of novel technological solutions to address health challenges including burnout, stress, and depression seen in medical students, residents, and practicing physicians in their early and later careers.