VRpatients’ Customizable Authoring Tool Puts Your Curriculum in the Palm of Your Hand
Think back about how you discovered not to touch the stove. Someone probably told you not to touch it because it could be hot, but it was only when you burned yourself that you really learned.
The same can be said for learning EMS, paramedic, and nursing skills. Instructors and books are imperative, but realistic virtual reality adds an entirely new element into the mix.
“None of your students are the same and none of your students learn the same way,” says Devin Marble, Program Coordinator for Multimedia Instruction at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ.
As a former instructor of an EMS and paramedic course at the college, he says he noticed something interesting about the more experienced students who were looking to advance their career.
“Part of what I was teaching them was how to learn again because you’re suddenly handed this enormous fat book of advanced medical skills and you have to figure out how to memorize things like a physician.”
So he looked at ways to turn things into experiences instead of just reading and found VR technology and the VRpatients software.
VRpatients allows instructors to create cases to let students learn and practice real-life situations without real-life consequences.
The Power of Personalized Learning
Today’s VR technology allows the teaching of students using a variety of methods.
“I’m a big fan of read it, write it, teach it. You need to do more than just read what was on the page or just memorize the picture,” Marble explains. “[With VR] a faculty member was able to convey something without having to try to draw a piece of anatomy when they’re not an artist. We were actually able to load the anatomy and then stand inside of it, which blew the students’ minds.”
He found that the opportunity to easily customize the curriculum was great for both students and instructors. Instructors can create a case and depending on the student’s response, the case progresses.
Students are essentially practicing treating patients.
“That is incredibly valuable because that patient’s not real so it’s non-destructive to a student who is learning to try again. They can make mistakes and fail in class. That’s what school is for. Where else are you going to be allowed to make mistakes and fail, if not in school? The whole point is that we don’t expect anybody in school to be an expert on day one you have to fail 100 times before you have experience.”
VRpatients is Easy to Customize
The VRpatients software comes pre-loaded with dozens of realistic living environments and patient avatars. Instructors can choose everything including medical condition, skin tone, height, weight, etc.
“I think in less than 30 minutes, you can load your avatars, put in a couple of problems with them, put in some questions, add some medications, and you’re ready to hit the ground running,” Marble explains. “My favorite thing about the platform is that it is a customizable tool that feels like you’re working with a blank slate, but you’re not. It has provided you all these pre-built patients ready to go so you can just duplicate and move forward.”
Then with the software, an instructor can even modify a case to help an individual student.
“You can change the case however you want so when it is that customizable, you can absolutely have it fit student A or student B,” Marble explains. “For example, if student A is very advanced and is actually picking skills up very well but they need a little bit more assistance with the bedside manner, you can actually add more questions to what they need to ask the patient in order to get at their disease process.”
The reverse also applies if a student is great talking to the patients, but not so great with the skills.
Marble says VRpatients’ training and the ability to alter it easily can help with the more competency-based platforms the national accrediting bodies seem to be moving towards.
“It means it needs to be more about just being able to get the questions answered correctly on your test or verbally answering the question. You have to be able to be competent at the skill as well. If those who set the standard for our industry are starting to shift towards a competency based platform, our students need competency based training, and that’s something that virtual reality can provide,” he says. “It will help them retain the information and practice their skills and they will be even more competent. That saves the faculty time to work on other things.”
VR Will Change EMS Training
Marble says it hasn’t happened yet, but VR is on the verge of changing the training landscape for the better in the EMS, paramedic, and nursing fields.
“I don’t think enough people are using VR yet,” he says. “I think that for the institutions who have caught on to the value of virtual reality education for EMS students, it is changing them for the better. But unfortunately, too many institutions are afraid to get their feet wet with virtual reality so they’re not doing it yet.”
He uses the comparison between VR and a microwave oven’s value in the kitchen.
“In your educational kitchen toolbox, virtuality reality is your microwave oven, but if you don’t have a microwave in your kitchen, you’re never going to know how easy, helpful, and convenient it is to make your teaching better,” Marble explains. “[It will] help your students remember better and help students practice the skill in a non-destructive environment so they can make mistakes without injuring people or injuring themselves.”
Marble says it took eight months to convince his institution to get their feet wet with virtual reality. Now the school is seeing the pass rate for accreditation rise, and he credits part of the success to VR.
VR is an Enhancement, Not a Replacement
Marble says he hears one thing over and over about VR, a fear that virtual reality will replace in-person instructors.
“I think it’s important to stress that [replacing instructors] is not the best use of virtual reality, nor do I think that is going to be a threat or the case any time soon. I don’t think virtually replacing a faculty member and teaching students on their own is happening soon because virtual reality is best used in conjunction with a faculty member. It’s best used as something that improves the education,” Marble says. “We need the faculty members and we need the subject matter experts to guide our students using a better tool.”
When you’re ready to look for a VR solution to your training needs, look no further than VRpatients.
As an industry leader navigating the remote learning world, the people at VRpatients know you are always looking to optimize your educational toolset. VRpatients increases knowledge retention and builds stress inoculation, all for a fraction of the price of traditional sim training.
Contact us to schedule a demo or to learn more about how VRpatients can help you get the most out of your precious training dollars.