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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

Virtual Reality is gaining attraction in Nursing and other Medical Education programs

Virtual reality has been met with mixed reviews in the aspect of higher education, but it has not been adopted in the fields of nursing and healthcare. In these areas, VR technology is providing students with hands-on experience in high-risk scenarios.

Walter Greenleaf, a neuroscientist hailing from Stanford University emphasizes that the use of virtual reality tools has become common in the medical and mental health sectors. For instance, these technologies can simulate scenarios where practitioners must deliver challenging news to patients, enhancing their social and emotional competence.

The applications of AR and VR are so extensive that it's almost easier to list where they haven't been used. Veterans Administration has implemented these technologies across more than 160 sites, training over 2,000 clinicians. This adoption cuts across aiding neuro-rehabilitation for traumatic brain injuries to addressing anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and addiction, as well as treating conditions like conduct disorder.

Certain AR and VR programs are used at familiarizing health science students with various medical devices and tools which enables them to gain familiarity before entering the field. This removes the need for extensive travel and weekend training sessions, allowing individuals to learn from the comfort of their homes or clinics, thanks to a vast library of applications.

The shift towards AR and VR tools into nursing and health science training has been in progress for a few years. These technologies enable practitioners to serve more patients regardless of geographical constraints and offer students the chance to prepare for working with diverse patient populations and confronting medical challenges.

The healthcare has always been a promising space for VR, with applications ranging from surgical and technical training to non-surgical procedural training, including triage and teamwork-related exercises.

With increasing interest from medical students, researchers at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing have recently unveiled a program aimed at assessing the effectiveness of VR tools in training advanced-practice nursing students. This not only builds confidence but also enhances students' abilities in handling real-world medical situations.

The availability of tools equipped with libraries of cases allows students to experience scenarios they may not have encountered in person, thereby preparing them for real-life situations.

Virtual Reality enables high-stakes or sensitive procedures to be practiced extensively, ensuring students are thoroughly prepared when they encounter such situations in their professional careers.


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