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Virtual Reality

U San Diego Nursing Students to Learn Clinical Skills in VR

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The University of San Diego is rolling out virtual reality technology in its nursing curriculum to help prepare students for real-world clinical scenarios. The VR tools will enable students to learn and practice clinical skills in a low-risk setting, as well as reduce their anxiety when interacting with live patients, according to a news announcement.

University professors worked with immersive training platform Virti to develop a library of custom VR simulations in a wide range of practice areas, including pediatrics, psychiatry, managing eating disorders and dispensing medication. Some simulations involve communicating with patients to arrive at a diagnosis, while others focus on practical clinical skills. Each simulation lasts about 30 minutes and can be accessed on-demand on the Virti platform using a VR headset, laptop or mobile device. When students interact with the simulation, the platform also generates data to assess their skills and pinpoint areas for improvement.

"A key way we're using Virti is to prepare students for 'live' training scenarios with real patients," commented David Haigh, senior manager for Simulation and Innovative Learning at the University of San Diego, in a statement. "When they come to do these in-person sessions there's often anxiety on the part of the student. We can now create a simulation with Virti that mirrors what they're about to do live, so they can prepare and orientate themselves. Once they've been through the live session, if they do poorly we can send them back through the Virti simulation so they can practice again. It's a brilliant preparatory and remedial tool. We're also creating other simulations to demonstrate key skills they need to master for their assessments."

Currently, the simulations cover about two-thirds of USD's nursing practitioner syllabus; the university plans to expand its use of the technology across the rest of the curriculum this year.

"We're enjoying working with Virti because we can create our own VR content and tailor it to be exactly what we need for our program (rather than trying to adapt a library of existing content). We also save money as we don't need to rely on expensive in-person actors or manikins," said Haigh. "Our staff are busy creating new simulations and soon we hope to have the entire nursing practitioner syllabus covered. We're also gathering lots of data, so will soon have a really clear indicator to show how the new approach is impacting student performance. We're really excited."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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