Want to know what it’s like to start using VRpatients?
We talked to Becky Bartell, the Interim Director and Assistant Professor for the Department of Nursing at Bethel College in North Newton, KS.
Bethel College has a total student population of about 500, with 22 of them studying to be nurses.
Bartell’s department just began using VRpatients and plans to incorporate it into the curriculum this fall. She told us how things are going so far and how she plans to use VRpatients to teach her nursing students.
What got you interested in VRpatients?
This is something that I think is new and upcoming in nursing education. We use a lot of simulation with mannequins, but they are extremely expensive and your staff needs to be present and know how to run the equipment. I thought that virtual reality would be something fun and exciting for students to use and help reduce costs. There is a lot more you can do that is lifelike in virtual reality and I think it will be more efficient.
What we’re looking for is getting students to think like nurses and what I have seen with virtual reality so far is it can really help us with that. It’s a lot more lifelike and there’s a lot more interaction with the patient. With the faculty being able to design scenarios and build certain patient reactions in, I think we have a lot more capabilities that we wouldn’t have with mannequins in the simulation lab.
The other benefit to VRpatients is we don’t necessarily have faculty in the room like you do when you run a simulation. Students can come outside of class time or scheduled lab time and run through scenarios.
What has your experience with VRpatients been like so far?
Initially we received a VR headset and tried out some of the trial EMS scenarios that are available and we got really excited about them.
Once we got officially onboarded, we started going through online training, calls, and webinars with the training staff at VRpatients. They are walking us through how to run scenarios and how to build and edit the scenarios.
We have assignments after each meeting that we have to complete so VRpatients knows that we know what we’re doing and that we’ve practiced it. That’s been very helpful.
Having this type of technology available to us and the excitement that students will have using this technology because it is new and cutting edge excites us.
I’m also excited about the ways we can use VRpatients not just in our labs but in our classrooms.
For example, if I’m talking about the concept of oxygenation to my students and I want to see what happens after I give a breathing treatment or administer oxygen or give an inhaler, I can walk through that on a computer screen in a classroom. I think that can be really memorable for students when they see what happens in a lifelike setting. It’s better than me just standing there just telling them about it.
I see us continuing to use mannequins in the SIM lab, but I think we will decrease the amount we will use them, which will help us financially because they are very expensive.
I’m also hoping we can use VRpatients as a recruiting tool for our program. We go to career fairs and this is something we can easily take with us and have prospective students try a scenario. It’s a lifelike intro to health professions.
How can VRpatients help your students learn other skills?
We’ve talked about using VRpatients to train nurses how to communicate with patients and model conversations that you can have.
You can click on questions to ask in virtual reality and the patient responds in a certain way. We could have multiple sets of questions, some being more appropriate than others, and then the patient responds in a certain way. We’re teaching therapeutic communication. It doesn’t have to be a disease process or a medication response, it can be as simple as how you talk to a patient.
What makes you most nervous about using VRpatients?
Nursing curriculums are already pretty heavy with content, clinicals, and labs. We want to make sure we’re not just adding something else but that we’re changing what we’re doing and making it the most efficient and effective way to teach.
What’s your timeline for using VRpatients?
We plan on implementing VRpatients into the fall curriculum and we’re trying to decide what that scale will look like. We’ve talked about taking out two or three simulation scenarios with mannequins and adding in two to four virtual reality scenarios. We’ll also try to implement a few little scenarios into the classrooms as demonstrations.
We’ll see how it goes and through trial and error, we’ll continue to adjust each semester.
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