Effective MRI is crucial to medical diagnosis which is why proper training of Medical Imaging Technologists and Technicians is incredibly important. Fortunately, MRI simulator software has proven to be an effective and efficient solution for education and skill development. Learn all about MRI simulators below and how recent advancements in technology are enabling better training and more opportunity for students, technologists, educators and managers.
What is an MRI simulator?
MRI simulators recreate – in whole or in part – the environment and experience of an MRI scanner. Specifically, MRI simulators use software that replicate the programs that control MRI machines and generate diagnostic imagery.
Simulators may also be connected to “mock” MRI hardware that recreates what happens during actual prep and scanning. Mock machines are often used to accustom a patient to the MRI process to improve actual scan outcomes, rather than for training as they present limitations of availability.
What are the benefits of MRI simulators?
MRI simulators offer a number of benefits for students, technologists, and technicians and the universities and organizations that train and employ them:
Unlimited practice anytime, anywhere
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that MRI simulator software gives much more freedom to learners in when and where they train. The best MRI simulator solutions like ScanLabMR use online browser-based programs so users can practice at any time or place without the scheduling and cost requirements of booking an actual MRI machine. This allows users the benefit of unlimited practice at their convenience and from the comfort of their laptop or smart device.
Safe, low-stress learning
With MRI simulators, students can practice and test their skills without risk to patients or themselves. The low-stress, risk-free environment allows for better cognitive processing and retention.
Full training experience
The more advanced MRI simulator solutions aim to recreate the entire experience of using an MRI scanner. In other words, the virtual training experience directly corresponds to real world expectations before, during, and after a scanning session.
With ScanLabMR, for example, users walk through a full safety check before entering scanning mode. This habituates practitioners to critical safety procedures with room for mistakes without endangering a patient. Learners can then practice a full scanning process, including comparing slice results with prescriptions and using previous slices to inform future prescription and angulation. Learners can freely experiment while getting quick, accurate results for their chosen parameters.
Real-time assessment and feedback
Modern MRI simulators no longer simply recreate MRI scanning; they also provide testing and feedback. ScanLabMR even provides quantitative assessment and objective scoring so users and their instructors can keep tabs on learning progress and quickly spot areas that need more work. Assessments are also helpful for managers at radiology facilities so they can monitor their staff’s knowledge and improve the overall quality assurance of their department.
Accommodation of learners’ diverse needs
Many MRI simulation programs can easily switch languages and accessibility settings between users on the same license. This opens up instruction and assessment to a wider range of practitioners. Professional training programs can expand their pool of potential students while prospective employers can easily assess multilingual candidates. Medical Imaging Technologists can also test and improve their own skills without needing to enroll in formal training or being affiliated with an MRI facility.
Standardization of MRI education
While some technologists enter the field via an undergraduate degree in MRI, many others first qualify as radiographers before learning MRI experientially. The current lack of standardization of MRI education, as highlighted in this 2017 literature review can lead to varying levels of knowledge and potential adverse outcomes for patients.
High quality simulator software provides an identical training environment and assessment standards that are based on the most up-to-date criteria and guidelines in the industry. This means that knowledge can be transferred, tested, and demonstrated in a consistent manner.
Improved outcomes for comprehension and retention
This is just an abbreviated list of all the benefits effective MRI simulators can provide to users, from undergraduates to professional training to staffing. With a comprehensive, flexible learning environment and clear standards for mastery of material, these programs make it easier for practitioners, instructors, and administrators to ensure the highest quality of education and training.
What types of MRI simulators are available?
As mentioned above, MRI simulators generally fall into two categories: entirely software or mock MRI machines. Since mock machines present availability challenges for training, many practitioners find comprehensive software solutions more practical and helpful. In addition, recent updates in MRI simulation software technology allow for more flexible, realistic, and thorough training.
However, not all MRI simulators offer the same benefits. ScanLabMR provides the most advanced MRI simulation experience on the market and was designed with the tools educators and managers need to quantitatively assess their students and staff. Unlike other simulators, ScanLabMR offers specialized and clinically validated hiring assessments, which students can bring to prospective employers to demonstrate mastery of material, improving job placement potential. In addition, hiring managers can use the objective assessments to evaluate potential employment candidates and get a glimpse into an applicant’s clinical skill that cannot be known from a resume alone.