Medical students learn in Mexico with robots as patients

imagesFacing the increasing number of medical students and the few units available for learning, a Mexican university began using robotic patients to train future doctors.  The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) on Monday opened the “virtual hospital” world’s largest, in which students can practice from birth with a mannequin robot up a shot in the arm of a plastic baby.

The robots are dummies complete with mechanical organs, synthetic blood and mechanical breathing systems. “The increase of medical students in the country has not been proportional to the increase in medical care units,” said Joaquin Lopez Barcena, general secretary of the Faculty of Medicine, UNAM, the largest public university in the country. “This is a very valuable learning opportunity,” he added. The “virtual hospital” which cost about 15 million pesos (about 1.08 million or 1.38 million) – has 24 robotic patients and a software that can simulate illnesses ranging from diabetes to a heart heart.

For Paola Mendoza, a freshman of Medicine, the robotic patients peace of mind. “I would feel nervous if it were a real patient,” he said after drawing blood synthetic plastic arm. “With this (dummy) I can practice many times,” he said. With nearly 15,000 students, UNAM has one of the largest medical schools in Latin America. Mexico has this year with more than 70,000 medical students, according to the Mexican Association of Colleges and Schools of Medicine. “Medical schools proliferate everywhere in Mexico,” said Martha Hijar, a researcher at the National Institute of Public Health. “It’s a well-paid career that offers a good status in society, so many come in that field,” he said.