The Rocky Vista University Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine is partnering with a virtual reality company called Perspectus to offer students at the school a unique learning experience.
The software will allow students the opportunity to view images that used to be available in only 2D, now within a three-dimensional realm.
Michael Zawada, Rocky Vista chair of biomedical sciences, said that the software will be a game changer for the students on campus when classes begin in July at the campus on the west end of Billings.
"The 3D virtual anatomy allows basically a view from the inside of the body or outside of the body being able to remove different structures in a three-dimensional space," Zawada said.
Zawada said that the program isn't available at many medical schools in the country, and he hopes it will help enhance the educational experience for their students.
"This is not offered at a lot of medical universities, but it is a really growing trend," Zawada said. "We are all about innovation here. We want to create an experience for the students that is both the most effective and also to reduce their stress."
Zawada said that the VR program could change the future of medical schools nationwide, giving students an opportunity to learn and practice without cadavers.
“We can limit the number of hours needed in the cadaver lab with this kind of three-dimension product," Zawada said. "As this product continues developing in quality and abilities, it will definitely be a very important aid for medical students."
According to Perspectus Director of Client Relations Jessica Mosseri, that efficiency is exactly what the software aims to do.
“It really is a great supplement to the cadaver lab where students can practice within virtual reality by dissecting our virtual cadaver before heading in and working on the actual bodies,” Mosseri said.
Mosseri said that Perspectus, which is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, was designed specifically to help enhance technology in the medical field and that once it is brought to a college campus, the opportunities are endless.
“This could be hugely impactful," Mosseri. said. "With the technology, they have the ability to do spatial recordings, to where an infinite amount of students could come in just based on the schedule they allow with the lab."
The system also allows importing 2D images like an MRI so that those pictures can be expanded into a three-dimensional platform. Because of features like that, Mosseri hopes that eventually this software will be used not only in schools, but in hospitals around the country as well.
“The end goal is to have students actually using it within their medical education and then moving on to actually using it when they are physicians as well,” Mosseri said.
For now, Zawada said that they are preparing for the first day of classes in July, and that they are excited for the technology to be featured in their new facility.
"We are very fortunate to be able to try (these) different technologies, while working together in this medical curriculum," Zawada said.