Nursing Programs Combine Manikin-Based Simulation & Virtual Reality

Although manikin-based simulations have become a valuable resource to nursing educational programs, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for remote and virtual learning. For this reason, such nursing programs have had to look beyond their physical simulation labs and explore other innovative and immersive learning platforms. While this transition has helped learners continue advancing their education amid pandemic restrictions, healthcare simulation companies, such as UbiSim, emphasize that virtual reality is not intended to replace manikins altogether.

Rather, UbiSim shares that both VR and simulation manikins complement each other well. For example, adopting immersive virtual reality allows the learner to leverage the benefits of this modality while maximizing the use of manikins already being used in many nursing programs. Over the past decade, manikin-based simulations have come to be used extensively in nursing education, and can work support the development of professional identity, communication and collaborative nursing .1 There is no need for the task trainers to go to waste given the rise of VR!

While nursing programs have relied on manikins in the past, in more recent years, headsets that immerse learners inside a 3D virtual clinical environment have grown in popularity. Through VR, augmented reality and mixed reality, learners can experience a high degree of presence and proprioception as they feel their movement and position within the virtual space.

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The most advanced immersive virtual reality platforms have virtual clinical environments that are highly interactive and hands-on, with students operating equipment, assessing patients and implementing nursing interventions. Immersive VR increases the realism of the simulation, helping learners to suspend disbelief and participate as if they were in a real-life clinical situation. This high degree of realism has been shown to increase learner engagement and motivation to learn.2

Other benefits of providing instruction via immersive VR simulations include being able to offer an authentic educational experience for learners, in addition to the flexibility presented by a simulation-based virtual education. As VR technology does not typically require much space, nursing programs are able to accommodate more learners than other traditional healthcare simulation activities.

Further, many VR simulation programs provide a standardized experience that can be implemented in a peer-to-peer learning model.3 This uses faculty resources to judiciously scale simulation to an increased number of learners. As compared with traditional methods of teaching, virtual reality may yield non-inferior learning outcomes,4 with improvements possible across cognitive, psychomotor and affective skills.5

Yet, to provide a truly robust learning experience, educators should consider the use of a hybrid approach that leverages the benefits of both immersive virtual reality and manikin-based simulation. While immersive virtual reality can assess certain psychomotor skills, the use of hand controllers may limit the ability for learners to perform exacting, fine motor movements. Examples of certain skills that can be difficult to assess in virtual reality include IV insertion or the adequacy of chest compressions. Simulation manikins provide an excellent modality for assessing the psychomotor domain, especially when using clinical simulators designed for specific skills-based learning.

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In such a hybrid model, educators can first engage learners in an immersive virtual reality scenario that challenges them to use cognitive and affective skills, execute autonomous decisions, and develop clinical judgment in a realistic environment that fosters the suspension of disbelief. Students can then practice specific skills on manikins that provide the necessary tactile feedback. This approach maximizes the best aspects of both modalities by combining the deep immersion of virtual reality with the psychomotor realism of manikins. Watch this UbiSim nursing virtual reality simulation unfold:

According to UbiSim: “By aligning the simulation modality to the student learning objectives, educators can more efficiently use resources and space. For example, students learning how to perform procedures may need a dedicated room with task trainers and stations, while those needing a high fidelity experience could use immersive virtual reality in a smaller area. Having access to both modalities gives educators the flexibility in how to implement simulation-based learning while allocating resources to where they are needed most.”

Overall, immersive virtual reality can function as an independent simulation modality, or as an effective partner to existing manikin-based simulation programs. No matter the size or sophistication of a program’s current simulation setup, immersive virtual reality provides powerful learning options that will augment the delivery of nursing simulation education.

More About UbiSim

UbiSim is a multidisciplinary team of nursing educators, healthcare simulation experts, software engineers and 3D artists, working to combine nursing simulation and virtual reality for an immersive learning experience. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, the company’s goal is to make nursing simulation more affordable, more accessible and more realistic than ever.

Using unique benefits presented through immersive virtual reality in nursing , UbiSim offers a complete simulation lab on a flexible platform. This allows the user to create and experience realistic clinical situations without needing to access physical simulation centers that are often booked months ahead of time.

Founded in 2016, UbiSim’s solution combines intuitive interactions provided by VR, flexible modules and immediate feedback after each clinical simulation session. Dedicated to the nursing industry, UbiSim works exclusively on nursing simulation and immersive, interactive virtual reality solutions. This focus has allowed the company to build a platform that responds best to the unique needs of nursing educators and nursing learners.

Learn More About UbiSim



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