Students at the University of Lublin are able to feel what their patients feel with the help of special suits and a simulation centre to prepare them for medical practice. Jim Drury reports.
It's a novel way of teaching medical students empathy. Trainee medics might know how to diagnose and prescribe, but their youth makes it hard to understand the physical challenges of elderly patients. For students at Poland's University of Lublin ignorance isn't an excuse. During training students don special padded suits that strain their muscles, while goggles restrict vision by 80 percent. SOUNDBITE (Polish) STUDENT, LUDWIKA WODYK, SAYING: "This type of situation will allow me to understand older people a little bit in the future if they complain of problems with joints, mobility, or their field of vision." Tutors imported the equipment from Japan, where the training technique is becoming common. SOUNDBITE (Polish) DOCTOR LUKASZ PIETRZYK, MEDICAL SIMULATION CENTRE, SAYING: "This is preparing students in terms of knowledge and skills, but also in terms of mental preparation, in terms of experiencing some emotion and communicating with the patient." Course tutors say putting old heads on young shoulders will improve health outcomes for Poland's growing elderly population.