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COOS BAY — Future medical professionals are learning how to use virtual reality systems at the high school level.

“Dr. Earnest Manders from North Bend Medical Center approached our school and said this is the new upcoming technology that medical students are being introduced to and is the new way to prepare for surgeries and practicing different treatments on patients,” said Chelsey Seedborg, anatomy, physiology and biology teacher at Marshfield High School.

After Manders reached out to both her and her counterpart at North Bend High School, MHS received a grant from the Tioga Foundation for just over $2,000 in December last year. Since then, MHS has used that grant to purchase a virtual reality computer, goggles, hand controllers and software for Seedborg’s classroom.

Because it is still new, Seedborg hasn’t planned any classes around the technology yet as she figures out how to use it and what it can do.

“(When you use it) you see a 3D image of a body and can click on different links for body systems,” Seedborg explained, describing the digital image as cartoonish rather than gory. “You can click on the nervous system and see the brain above you. You can look into different lobes and look deeper into the brain. You can pull the eyeball out. It gives students a 3D view of what they would operate on. It’s amazing.”

Seedborg said never in her 15 years of teaching did she think her classroom would hold such technology. Even though she hasn’t planned a lesson around the system yet, students have tried it out and spent their lunch break learning how to use the hand controllers.

“They’ve only had a taste of it so far though,” she said.

In her classes, she said about 75 percent are interested in pursuing a medical career,

“As far as incorporating (the virtual reality system) … this could be a station for learning about different body systems,” she said, adding that students might end up using it in her class as a way to locate terms they’ve studied. “I’m really thankful Dr. Manders thought of Marshfield.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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