Jump Medical Visualization Internship: A One-of-a-Kind Experience

Internships have always provided an immense benefit for health care and for the participating intern to learn from experiential and real opportunities. At Jump Simulation, part of OSF Innovation, the unique internship program has helped create a number of products, programs, services and clinical applications that help improve patient care in a variety of ways. Often combining the varied backgrounds of students from medicine, engineering, business, design and computer science, the Jump internship program has included graduate students in biomedical visualization (BVis) from the University of Illinois Chicago.

One such Jump intern is Eric Ou. Graduating December 2018 from the renowned graduate program at UIC, Eric has been a valuable member of the Medical Visualization team at Jump, providing everything from medical animations and illustrations to instructional graphics and mobile app development. His latest project developed with OSF HealthCare, through Jump, is a simple, cost-effective software app to teach medical students and others how to use ultrasound to insert a cannula into a vein (to help minimize the number of needle sticks a patient might go through).

Eric worked with Dr. Joseph Peters of OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center and myself on this project. The app runs on most PCs with a mouse, and without requiring expensive peripheral equipment. Similar simulators can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Learners can practice from home. I chatted with Eric about his Jump internship experience, what he has learned and how this experience is guiding his career.

How did your experience at Jump influence your ultrasound research?

Being at Jump was pivotal for the project. Without you and Dr. Joseph Peters educating me about ultrasound simulation, it would have never occurred to me that such a thing existed, nor would I have thought to pursue it on my own.

What was your driving influence?

I was influenced by Dr. Peters’ ultrasound class where I observed several areas that an affordable simulator can improve - mainly students having to wait in lines and form groups to share a single ultrasound machine and the phantom used to teach. I looked to other advanced simulators on the market for inspiration on a possible solution.

A secondary influence comes from my years of playing a myriad of video games. The simulator uses technology that one would find in video games from the last 15 years or so - render-textures, cross-sections, shaders, etc. I simply applied them to a medical simulator. I'm glad having indulged in video-games all those years hasn’t been a complete waste of time.

What’s next for this project?

I would like to continue developing the simulator to make it more robust. Right now, it only uses the basic features of Unity 3D and is rather rudimentary in its application. Unity 3D is capable of much more, including the ability to simulate a flexible cannula and phantom, and possibly building a completely virtual ultrasound machine in the simulator. Currently, the simulator does not teach the learner how to use an actual ultrasound machine. With the aforementioned additions, I think better training is possible.

I would also like to test how students receive the simulator. While the simulator was designed to have controls that are intuitive, they are from my perspective, a gamer. I will need feedback from non-gamers and without the bias that comes from being the developer. User feedback data will also expand the research credibility beyond the current 'proof of concept'.

What at Jump/OSF impacted you the most?

Dr. Peters’ expertise was indispensable. I came in knowing nothing about ultrasound and how it works, and certainly nothing about how it's taught. Dr. Peters walked me through the process of ultrasound-guided cannulation and how it is done, which created a solid bedrock from which a simulator can be made. The MedViz team also really opened my eyes to many new areas within the medical field that use artistic skills.

What would you like to do in the future? What is next?

Prior to the Jump internship, I was unaware of the applications and venues for medical simulation. Having worked there really opened my eyes to the possibilities. I would like to continue work in the simulation field and build more simulators.

Become a Jump intern

Most of the Jump interns have had unique and fulfilling experiences in one of the great health care innovation centers in the country. The interns are a diverse group and many learn from each other new skills, capabilities and applications that are innovative and potentially even life-saving.

Watch for summer intern postings coming in late January or early February to the OSF careers page
Categories: Innovation, Medical Visualization