Tuesday, 12th November 2019
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Virtual reality improves nursing education

Virtual Reality (VR) simulation allows nursing students at the University of New England to practice caring for acutely ill virtual patients within an immersive, realistic setting.

The University of New England (UNE) is working with Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) to deliver state-of-the-art virtual reality software to transform nursing education.

The immersive virtual reality platform supports nursing students at the UNE School of Nursing and Population Health in providing simulated patient care to advance clinical decision making and communication skills with other health care providers. This training allows nursing students to practice in true-to-life virtual scenarios without posing risk or harm to patients and families.

The technology is developed by Oxford Medical Simulation, an award-winning VR simulation company - based in Boston and London - and allows nursing student to practice treating acutely ill patients in a simulated, virtual environment. This optimizes skill development including clinical reasoning, decision making and patient/team communication, resulting in increased competence and confidence in managing complex care.

UNE’s Interprofessional Simulation and Innovation Center (ISIC) is committed to providing state of the art experiential learning opportunities to health professional students,” said Director of Clinical Simulation Dawne-Marie Dunbar, MSN/Ed., RN, CNE, CHSE. “With the OMS VR platform, we will be able to increase simulation capabilities that offer students access to complex patient care scenarios while optimizing time, space, and resources.”

This innovative technology allows UNE ISIC to engage students in expanded simulation-based experiences. Simulation refers to the use of simulated patients to practice delivery of acute patient care and is widely regarded as the most effective way of training health care professionals. Simulation is traditionally implemented with actors and/or manikins staged within a mock, realistic setting. However, high-fidelity simulation requires significant time, space, and budget. As a result students may only receive two-to-three simulation experiences per year. With virtual reality simulation, students are now able to practice simulated scenarios as often as needed.

“We’re delighted to be working with the University of New England to take nurse training to new heights. We developed OMS because we believe that training healthcare professionals in a flexible, zero-risk environment will transform patient care around the world. We all learn best from experience and the OMS system allows users at UNE to do just that - without putting patient’s lives at risk,” said Jack Pottle, MD, Chief Medical Officer of OMS.

The OMS system provides students access to libraries of nursing scenarios, supporting practice of care provision and clinical decision-making across a wide range of conditions such as sepsis, pneumonia, heart failure, and meningitis. Students enter the interactive virtual scenario using a VR headset and are greeted by a virtual mentor and their patient/family. Learner interaction with the patient mimics real-life engagement with a patient. Through this pedagogy (or experience), learners can examine the patient, ask questions, initiate treatment, and provide support/reassurance as they would in actual clinical practice. Every action the student takes is recorded and compared to best practice. Once the scenario is complete, the platform produces a comprehensive data analytics report providing the student with detailed feedback. This serves as a de-briefing tool to guide reflection as to what went well and what they need to improve on.

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