Tufts University

Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, a medical education researcher from Tufts University, conducted research on end-of-life counseling by medical teams.  Dr. Mitchell formed teams composed of a medical student, a nursing student, a social work student, and a nutrition student to learn about types of pain and ways to talk with patients near the end of life. The students then worked together through several scenarios involving model patients, functioning as a care team.

Working closely with Dr. Mitchel and her colleagues, Virtual Ability designed and built a hospital setting where the teams could meet and complete their assignments. Virtual Ability installed instructional materials as directed by the researcher, and programmed model patients (AI bots) who asked their care team about end-of-life planning.

One very realistic model patient refused cancer treatment because she would need to quit taking her medications for psychosis. The care team was invited to explore a schizophrenia simulation to better understand her decision to discontinue cancer treatment rather than endure poorly controlled psychosis symptoms.


Virtual Ability also created a museum of the Floating Hospital for Children ship used by Tufts pediatric physicians in the 1900s.