HARROGATE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Veterinary students gathered around the examination table with tablets in hand, listening intently to an electronic device as the Alexa voice posed as a dog owner. During their case study for a 12-week-old puppy, students could ask the fictitious owner questions to determine what it needed for good health.
"Is he getting food made for puppies?" asked one aspiring animal doctor.
The device responded, based on pre-programmed data, "He is usually so full from what the kids give him, he doesn't eat all of his food."
The students went on to discuss nutrition and the need for worming with the virtual dog owner. They are using technology on top of already interviewing actors who sometimes help them practice for clinical work.
"When you have an actor it's a little different and it's kind of a different stressor," said third year LMU student Charlotte Talbert.
"But when you have Alexa, you get to make those options, you get to make those mistakes and capitalize on them the next time."
The students are using Alexa technology customized by Assistant Professor Jamie Perkins, DVM. She said she used this technology herself when going through veterinary school, and she was excited to develop it for other students to use. Perkins' demonstration of using Alexa to develop clinical skills won her first place honors in the 2018 Hyperdrive contest at the DevLearn Conference in Las Vegas in October. She said several other schools have been inquiring about using this technology.
Perkins said using the Alexa tool can streamline studying, prepare students for real-world clinic work and potentially save the vet school money training students.
Perkins explained that Alexa can bridge the gap between classroom learning and preparation for medical practice, "It's a process where students need to go through, and they need to bring all of that information they've learned while sitting in traditional lectures, all of those facts and actually apply them to a patient."
You can find more information about the technology award here.
Details here about the LMU College of Veterinary Medicine.