The project VirRAD is an attempt to revolutionise teaching in this specialist medical area by taking learning out of the classroom and into the workplace through the world-wide-web.

"The problem is that because of its highly specialised nature, the number of practitioners in any one locality is few”, says project co-ordinator Professor Stephen Mather, from Cancer Research UK. "Even the largest hospitals, imaging centres and University departments only employ a few people, so basing training schemes on conventional classroom scenarios is logistically and financially difficult. VirRAD will improve communications and learning within this very specialised area and, we believe, could be adapted to meet the needs of other similar specialised medical fields.”

The advantages of the VirRAD system in building a virtual community are already emerging with strings of several messages developing within the discussion forums set up on specific radiopharmacy topics, the creators say.

But, the website is still in its early stages. It is planned to offer courseware for learning and training in radiopharmacy at all student levels. At its most basic, an introduction to nuclear medicine is already available to the general public, providing information on how it is used, and what the risks and benefits are to patients. Anybody recommended for a medical imaging scan can therefore find out more about the test procedure for particular medical diagnoses.

The long-term objective is to offer a learning environment that addresses the needs of student radiopharmacists or technologists, according to the agreed syllabus of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine. The learning environment will combine several available technologies, including virtual reality, web-based multimedia displays and streaming video, in addition to applying the latest learner models.

MEDICA.de; Source: 6th Framework Programme (FP6)