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UM Today | Radhi School of Health Sciences

October 17, 2022 —

Students at the School of Nursing, Radi Health Sciences, have a new high-tech way of learning this year by adding immersive virtual reality (VR) to their curriculum.

The university opened two VR study rooms with a total of 11 workstations at the Helen Glass Center for Nursing in September.

Kimberly Wurcombe, head of the College of Nursing’s Center for Clinical Competence Assessment and Digital Strategy, says VR learning has been a vision for the university for several years, but the COVID pandemic has played a role in rapidly chasing the platform. . A more immersive learning experience than other virtual learning tools.

“If we can’t do in-person clinicals because of another pandemic or other reasons, we can do it remotely if the students have their own VR headsets,” says Workum.

Workum led the team that developed the program using technology from Montreal-based VR company UbiSim. Many of the learning scenarios used to launch the VR program were provided by UbiSim. However, Jeanne San Miguel, a simulation facilitator and content developer at the College of Nursing, has developed and implemented several new VR scenarios for her, and is currently converting many of the university’s existing simulation scenarios to VR. .

According to San Miguel, students were immediately excited about learning in a virtual environment.

“This term cohort has never had an in-person simulation due to COVID,” San Miguel said.

While studying at home, students used virtual simulations (v-sims) similar to desktop computer games.

“It has some similar elements to v-sims, but it’s a completely different experience because you can see the patient in front of you as if they were at your bedside.”

The program is used in conjunction with the university’s existing simulation platform that uses lifelike manikins and standardized patients.

“VR is based more on clinical, judgment and critical thinking rather than performing physical skills,” San Miguel said.

Jeanne San Miguel facilitates a VR learning session with third graders Daria Surina and Morgan Sawchyn.

On the platform, students work together in pairs, one being the ‘active player’ and the other the ‘driver’. The active player puts on her VR headset and hands her controls and acts as a bedside nurse, caring for patients along her one of several pre-programmed scenarios. . The driver lets the nurse know what the patient needs and plays the role of the patient by choosing the appropriate scenario. Pre-recorded responses.

Active players are fully immersed in a 3D world. Patients (and sometimes family members) carefully observe and talk to them with increasing intensity as appropriate.

Third-year student Morgan Sawchyn says the biggest advantage to v-sim is the ability to multitask, just like nurses do in a real-life environment.

“Also, because you speak instead of choosing a pre-determined response, you actually speak like you would in a clinical setting,” she said.

Sawchyn’s first scenario on the platform involved a patient overdosing on an opioid pain reliever.

“I had to provide care, give him neutralizers, give him oxygen, keep him from being adversely affected. “It’s very real.”

Dr. Netha Dyck, dean of the College of Nursing, said the college has spent $50,000 on the VR initiative, with funding provided by a donation from Dr. Ernest Rady. In 2016, Ernest and Evelyn Rady donated his unprecedented $30 million to his UM to support Rady’s School of Health Sciences through the Rady Family Foundation.

“Virtual reality offers a highly engaging learning experience and a powerful way for students to develop clinical practice, communication and critical thinking skills,” said Dyck. “Our students are thrilled to have the opportunity to develop their skills in this immersive and safe environment.”