Boise State creates virtual reality program to train nursing students

At Boise (Idaho) State University, a team of nursing and gaming professionals developed a video game that allows nursing students to practice complex medical procedures virtually, according to the Idaho Statesman.

The technology is called Virtual Reality Nursing Simulation with Custom Haptic System for Patient Safety, and its developers predict the training will allow nursing students to more aptly transition from the classroom to real world medical settings.

"We call it deliberate practice — the idea that you can't really learn a procedure unless you're able to do it repeatedly and build up that muscle memory," Ann Butt, RN, a clinical nursing professor at Boise State University, told the Statesman. "Unfortunately, what you often see in medical and nursing school is students are only able to practice a procedure once or twice and that's expected to be sufficient. This system will change that."

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The system uses sensory gloves and virtual reality goggles to create a medical environment where students must complete a series of tasks like catheter insertion and environment sterilization — the game scores the proficiency of the student.

"Because it was presented like a game, it was fun and easier to learn," Katrina Wuori, a senior nursing student at BSU, told the Statesman. "It sounds funny but you can compete for how accurately and quickly you can insert a catheter compared to another student, and it seemed like that competition made everyone try harder."

The majority of nursing schools presently use medical manikins to train students. However, the manikins can cost between $15,000 and $64,000 apiece. Not every institution can afford enough manikins to provide their students with sufficient practical training time. BSU's new technology costs approximately $5,000 and new simulations can be created in four to six months.

The creators of the system are now attempting to secure funds to develop a variety of games, including multiplayer simulations that would allow both nursing and medical students to work through procedures together.

"Nursing students don't currently have access to medical students or vice versa," Ms. Butt said. "They should be learning and collaborating more, and this technology would allow them to do it from anywhere in the world. How cool would that be?"

More articles on quality: 
Where are the 15 Leapfrog F hospitals? 
Untimely nursing care linked to racial disparities in hospital readmission among AMI patients 
Safety of outpatient hand and upper extremity surgeries examined in new study

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