How useful was VR Deteriorating patient simulation for Mental Health Nursing Students?- A Senior Lecturer’s Viewpoint

As part of my research with CEL I have been conducting an RCT to compare the use of a VR Deteriorating patient training exercise with Adult and Mental Health Nursing Students.  In addition to comparing a pre and post-test survey and MCQ quiz results of students, I am conducting focus groups with students and learning technologists and interviews with the two academics involved in the study (Dr Janet James and Dr Sarah Eales).  Senior Lecturer Sarah Eales, was asked about the perceived advantages and disadvantages of using the VR exercise.  After providing what she felt were several benefits to her students, she went on to shed light on something Debbie Holley has been highlighting recently, the “wicked challenge” of defining and addressing the significant challenges impeding technology enhanced learning adoption in Higher Education.

To the question: “What do you think the positives would be of using this VR Deteriorating Patient Exercise for mental health nursing students?”, Sarah cited four benefits, which were:
•       Reinforcement of the learning (from theory, simulated ward, placements etc)
•       Real time feedback
•       Patient safety
•       Easier translation of knowledge to real life which would therefore help to close the theory practice gap

Dr Eales also compared the VR exercise to existing teaching methods in Mental Health lecturing, including teaching on a simulated ward; video and drama role plays (using actors).  She suggested that VR simulation might complement these existing methods in an advantageous way:
“So, for me, it combines the advantages of a simulated ward with those of a drama role play, in that you can have the sense of urgency as well as deteriorating vital signs in the patient.  If the patient is getting anxious and you need to take their blood pressure you could make your …(avatar) talk to the patient to calm them down.  That is an additional advantage of the VR simulation you have made, I feel.”

However, she also felt that more research needs to be conducted to determine how well VR simulators prepare student nurses for confident and competent practice, hence the present study being conducted in conjunction with CEL and HSS at BU and other similar studies e.g. VR Urinalysis.

Finally, Dr Eales was asked to comment on the sorts of challenges that make it difficult to use these sorts of technologies in HE. She went on to highlight the need for “investment” not just in terms of funding and resourcing, but also in time.
“I think it is about investment. If you are going to do this work in a HE setting you have got to have investment.  And investment is about money for equipment (googlecardboards), but that is a very practical element of investment, and for me it is about investment in a strategic commitment to approaches that foster using these interactive educational tools.  I think it is also an acknowledgment and appreciation of the time involved in developing these tools.”


The next update will be to share the views of the Learning Technologists who have supported this study.

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