Using Virtual Reality to Orient Learners to Healthcare Simulation

Virtual healthcare simulation is a powerful tool to educate and train future healthcare professionals to integrate into clinical practice. One of the most significant advancements in healthcare simulation is the emerging integration of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. The inclusion of virtual reality simulation into the healthcare students’ curriculum can improve immersion and integration into practice for these learners. This article, written by Tiffani Chidume, RN, DNP, CCRN-K, CHSE-A, CHSOS, will explore virtual reality’s role in clinical practice immersion to hone the health professional learner’s skills, orientation to healthcare simulation experiences, enhance critical thinking, and improve decision-making.

Virtual Reality Incorporation into Prebriefing

The integration of virtual reality (VR) into nursing curricula has brought about a transformative shift in the approach to student training, effectively incorporating fundamental principles of simulation-based education, such as prebriefing, scenario, and debriefing. The prebriefing stage involves providing students with a clear introduction to the VR simulation, outlining objectives, and ensuring they understand the expected outcomes. The prebrief stage helps learners mentally prepare and fosters engagement (INACSL Standards Committee, 2021).

Sponsored Content:

Healthy simulation practices consider orienting healthcare students to the immersive nature of VR during the prebrief phase crucial. The “playground” or “sandbox” feature allows students to experiment and learn in an unstructured environment, which has been proven to be a valuable resource during the prebrief phase of a simulation-based experience. Utilizing these orientation features also emphasizes the benefits of these technologies in nurturing competent and confident healthcare professionals.

The Expansion of Virtual Reality in Healthcare Simulation and the Power of Immersion

Virtual reality technology provides a level of immersion that traditional simulation methods cannot match. Learners are transported into a three-dimensional, interactive environment, enabling them to experience realistic clinical scenarios. This immersion facilitates deep learning and emotional engagement, which is especially critical in fields where human lives are at stake.

Virtual reality simulations allow students to practice in a safe but realistic clinical setting. They can interact with virtual patients, administer treatments, and make critical decisions just as they would in a hospital or clinical environment. This prepares them for real-life situations, enhancing their clinical competency and confidence.

Sponsored Content:

Finally, VR simulations can be customized to meet specific learning objectives and can be repeated as often as needed, promoting skill acquisition and mastery. This adaptability is especially beneficial in healthcare education, where students often face complex and unpredictable patient scenarios. Virtual reality offers endless possibilities for healthcare simulation students and healthcare simulation facilitators.

The Significance of the “Playground” or “Sandbox” Feature

The “sandbox” feature in virtual reality refers to an open environment that allows users to freely move around the space and explore the capabilities of what they are able to do while immersed. The “playground” or “sandbox” feature allows learners to experiment and explore the virtual environment without rigid guidelines, which fosters creativity, encouraging students to develop innovative problem-solving approaches. While in the “playground” or “sandbox,” students are allowed to walk around in the immersive environment to build and gauge comfort, play with available equipment, and assess VR environment limitations and possibilities. This has been especially important in evaluating students for motion sickness or cybersickness. For healthcare VR simulations, the “sandbox” may include picking up equipment using the hand controllers, picking up and scrolling through the electronic health record, or completing a basic assessment complete with auditory and haptic feedback.

Virtual reality promotes critical thinking by presenting learners with open-ended scenarios. Students must think critically, analyze situations, and make decisions, preparing them for the ever-evolving challenges they will face in real healthcare settings. Making mistakes is an integral part of the learning process, especially in healthcare education. The “playground” or “sandbox” feature provides a safe space for students to make errors, learn from them, and improve their decision-making skills without harming actual patients. This is vital, especially in healthcare, where every patient is unique, and nurturing creativity is invaluable.

View the LEARN CE/CME Platform Webinar Thinking Outside the Box: Use Cases for Virtual and Augmented Reality in Healthcare Simulation to learn more!

Continuing the Preparation of Competent and Confident Healthcare Professionals

The combination of virtual reality and the various orientation features ensures that healthcare simulation students develop a high level of clinical competency. They gain hands-on experience and the ability to handle a wide range of clinical situations, all while in a risk-free environment. Virtual reality and the “playground” or “sandbox” feature nurture decision-making skills. Students learn to make timely and well-informed choices, a crucial aspect of healthcare practice, where quick and accurate decisions can significantly affect patient outcomes.

Psychological safety remains one of the most important values in healthcare simulation. Working with patients in real healthcare settings can be emotionally challenging. Virtual reality simulations may help students develop emotional resilience when facing challenging scenarios. This prepares them for the emotional demands of healthcare professions.

Virtual reality simulations can also incorporate ethical dilemmas, preparing students to navigate complex moral issues. They learn to make decisions that prioritize patient welfare while adhering to ethical standards. Immersive VR simulations with orientation features encourage students to focus on patient-centered care. They gain a deeper understanding of the patient’s perspective, enhancing their ability to provide compassionate and empathetic healthcare.

Orienting healthcare simulation students on virtual reality and the orientation features is paramount in nurturing competent and confident healthcare professionals. The integration of the virtual reality “playground” or “sandbox” feature promotes comfort in the immersive environment. These technologies create a learning environment that prepares students for the challenges of healthcare practice, ensuring they deliver patient-centered, high-quality care while continuously striving for excellence in their field.

Learn More About Virtual Reality in Healthcare Training!


Sponsored Content: