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VR is More Than a Game: It’s a Serious Training Tool for Frontline Clinicians

Virtual Reality, or “VR,” is an interactive three-dimensional world where objects have a sense of spatial presence — and it’s changing the way frontline clinicians learn and train.

Using a headset, VR allows users to step into another “dimension” and engage in high-level SIM training that feels more real than “point and click” solutions.

Training within virtual reality simulations has numerous advantages in healthcare settings – its immersive, modern capabilities are highly engaging, and help prepare clinicians for serious high-risk, real-life events. 

Let’s learn more about this dual benefit of virtual reality training for healthcare.

An Active, Engaged Experience

Imagine a healthcare training scenario that lets clinicians fully embrace what they’ve learned and react in real-time to a critical event in the operating room, emergency room, or labor and delivery department. It’s also a fun, exciting, and unique way to fully immerse themselves in a scenario as close to the real situation as possible. 

This is what virtual reality provides for nurses, clinicians, and techs. It’s active and engaging and gives users the privacy and opportunity to train for essential, high-stakes situations in the hospital.

Experiential Learning

With its combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic input, VR can accommodate a range of individual learning styles.

Virtual reality convinces the brain that the experience is real and mimics the high-pressure events that can arise in hospital settings. This leads to higher retention of information and greater preparedness for when these situations actually occur. 

These virtual environments allow any clinician to “step into” real-world clinical events and vocally interact with virtual “teammates” who listen and repeat back the protocols using closed-loop communication. This cyclical style of training reinforces correct practices and highlights when a mistake is made, giving users the ability to rerun a simulation and approach it from a different angle.

On-Demand Training

Training should never stop for nurses, technicians, and other frontline clinicians. Patients' lives are in their hands, and they must keep up to date on prepping for real-life, unforeseen high-risk events.

The on-demand access VR training provides allows learners to choose where and when they prefer to practice, resulting in even more customized learning. Users can train on their lunch break, before they start their workday, or whenever they have a few minutes to spare. 

Plus, the cost-effectiveness of VR systems and the “no facilitators needed” factor make access more flexible and broad-based. VR provides true scalability – it’s up to 20 times cheaper than manikin-based training, requires no patient or faculty involvement, and the hardware is easily storable when not in use.

It’s Exciting

At the end of the day, virtual reality training is a fun alternative to traditional learning methods. Learners immerse themselves in a completely digital world, and their bodies and minds use groundbreaking technology to prepare for work. It creates a much more effective, active, and enjoyable experience than passive e-learning or classroom sessions.

VR has a “cool factor” that, up until recently, only applied to entertainment, like video games or interactive performances. Because VR captivates and allows users to be 100% active in their training it’s more effective than watching a PowerPoint presentation or working on an unresponsive manikin.

Preparation for High-Risk Events

Virtual reality training for healthcare prepares trainees for complex, high-risk instances, such as: 

  • Perioperative Care (Malignant Hyperthermia, PASS and RACE Fire Safety, and more)
  • Labor & Delivery (Obstetric Hemorrhage, Shoulder Dystocia, and more)
  • Emergency Care (Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Emergency Assessment, and more)

Training scenarios help the entire team walk through the whole situation, and rehearse their planned response.

Your medical staff needs to be ready to handle pretty much anything. But they don’t often get formal training on how to deal with high-risk events, resulting in poor outcomes – in fact, 50% of entry-level nurses are involved in practice errors and only 23% of nurses graduate feeling prepared for practice. When you utilize VR training, you don’t need an emergency to train nurses – you can prepare for high-risk events without real-life consequences. 

Serious Exposure

The more similar the simulation is to the real clinical setting, the more motivated and better the students are at developing skills. These “psychomotor” skills are coordinated muscle movements governed by conscious mental processes to complete certain tasks, and their development through VR simulation training will allow trainees to practice before implementing them.

VR provides nurses, techs, and other clinicians with the opportunities to perform high-risk and high-cost interventions on virtual patients and gain experience without jeopardizing the safety of real patients through simulations.

These lifelike sims can be reset and repeated without consequence, and dramatically improve procedural confidence, directly translating to better clinical outcomes and overall patient care.

Critical Thinking Exercises

For high-risk care situations, you must train your mind and body to respond calmly. How you train yourself and hone your critical thinking through these VR exercises will increase the likelihood of executing the right response in the moment. Healthcare staff are responsible for the care of many patients during their shifts – strong critical thinking skills are crucial when juggling various tasks so patient safety and care are not compromised.

Virtual reality training for healthcare promotes critical thinking because of its authentic nature – it’s the closest thing to the event happening in real life. Critical thinking is necessary for these simulations because what a learner does within the training sim will mimic how they approach a real-life scenario. 

Compliance Adherence

One of the most important keys to a hospital's reputation and performance is its adherence to compliance. To maintain compliance, your medical staff needs to remain 100% up to date on the latest accurate industry protocols.

Consistency is critical when training for high-risk events, but your staff may learn different approaches, depending on who trains them. Virtual reality simulations, provide a more standardized approach to training, which gives you the peace of mind that your staff remains trained for precise scenarios.

VR training gets your team on the same page with experiences built on evidence-based protocols and nationally recognized standards. The immersive nature of this training dramatically increases retention and effectively informs and nurtures the right behaviors. 

Health Scholars and Our Unique Approach to VR Training for Healthcare

Health Scholars VR training provides a place where frontline clinicians can experience the sights, sounds, interactions, and pressures encountered in high-risk events – in a context that helps them confidently master their skills and responses every step of the way.

Our proprietary voice-directed AI technology allows learners to interact simply by speaking – their VR teammates “hear” and respond to verbal commands like they would in the real world. 

It’s fun, cool, and highly effective training that looks and feels like you're in the situation, and you can make it available as needed anywhere at any time for any of your team members.

And it’s all developed with practicing clinicians, evidence-based guidelines, national specialty organizations, and clinical educators to address real-world patient safety problems. We help you prepare your staff to handle anything.

What’s Next?

Watch the recording of our fireside chat: "Rural vs. Urban: Nurse Educators and the Maternal Mortality Crisis."

Ready to schedule a demo or simply chat with a member of our team? Reach out to us and let’s start a conversation.

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