CHEST Escape Room 2019: Interview With Faculty “Starship Technical Consultant” Viren Kaul, MD

December 18, 2019 by CHEST Market Growth Team

A dire threat to the existence of humanity. A spaceship that’s become a dangerous trap. And sticky, slimy alien blood. New Orleans had not seen an adventure quite like this since…well, maybe in the future.

The fate of humanity hangs in the balance, and teams have only 20 minutes to escape—the dramatic stylings of William Kelly, MD, FCCP.

The CHEST 2019 Escape Room emerged as a crowd pleaser featuring sci-fi action, clinical puzzles, and a key hidden inside the entrails of a fallen (mannequin) comrade. Like every great Star Trek episode, the stakes were only as high as the life of the soon-to-be dead ensign who had the key lost in his torso, and every team managed to escape the doomed starship unscathed and with a great CHEST 2019 (or was it 2091) story to tell.

Viren Kaul, MD, spills his guts (last one) on what it was like to help create the CHEST Escape Room.

The CHEST Escape Room team in the midst of de-construction after a successful debut— Viren Kaul, MD, is second from the left in the Vulcan ears.

1. How did you get involved in the Escape Room?

My area of academic and research interest is medical education, specifically the use of technology and gamification for the same. The initial idea to create an Escape Room-style learning experience at the #CHEST2019 Annual Meeting gained lot of support from Dr. Bill Kelly [William Kelly, MD, FCCP], and we were quickly able to build a team of experienced educators who were interested in implementing the idea, including very supportive CHEST staff. My role in the activity was to build a framework, collaboratively create the clinical content, and work closely with Chad’s [CHEST Senior Vice President of Market Growth, Chad Jackson, FCCP,] team to implement the Escape Room on-site in NOLA.

2. What was the experience like at CHEST 2019?

I am biased, but it was one of the most fulfilling educational activities I have been involved with in my career. The inclusion of visual, tactile, and auditory stimulation while providing bite-sized learning was a challenging task but one that led to massive interest at the annual meeting. Given that it was our first time, we certainly faced the challenges of having to transport the set-up from Chicago to NOLA, but we were able to get the final product ready as a team, and pictures of the learners coming out excited from the rooms were worth every bit of the effort.

3. What feedback did you get from Escape Room participants?

The participants found the Escape Room challenging and fun and, at the same time, educational. From the early feedback, most participants were interested in engaging with the Escape Room again and informed us that they would be recommending the activity to their colleagues. We did identify areas of improvement, and those will be implemented in the subsequent editions of the Escape Room activity with new clinical content and enhanced puzzles. Seeing the groups of learners smile from ear-to-ear on their way out was perhaps my best experience as faculty.

4. What are some things you would like to add to future versions?

This would be a little like giving trade secrets away! We are looking into expanding the engagement by creating more hands-on puzzles, including disease-focused puzzles, creating a progression map, and fostering elements that encourage teamwork and communication. We will also build competency evaluation checklists and a rubric to allow us to provide feedback to participants. Finally, to keep the learning fresh, we will be switching up the themes. Who knows? There could be dinosaurs involved next time!