If you’re anything like me, then learning about science and medicine is something you thoroughly enjoy in fact, I bought a book recently that focuses on debunking scientific myths and rumors, as well as answering some of the most commonly asked questions. But within the last decade, virtual reality has found its way into the educational aspect of the healthcare industry.
Virtual reality is an industry that seems to be vast improving and growing on its own, and in other industries. Specifically in the healthcare field, virtual reality is changing the way we learn and train.So, what exactly is virtual reality? If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d have to go with simulation/simulator. For a more formal definition, virtual reality is an “artificial world that consists of images and sounds created by a computer and that is affected by the actions of a person who is experiencing it.” Now that we’ve got that out of the way, how exactly does this apply and affect the health care industry? Virtual reality can be used in multiple scenarios, all of which including educating and training healthcare professionals.
Working in the healthcare field and also studying it, this is something that can impact the field immensely. In my first year of nursing, my first experience with a simulation lab consisted of a mannequin patient and a group of students assessing this ‘patient’ based on the symptoms we were given. Although we couldn’t actually “assess” the patient fully, due to the fact that it was a mannequin (well, not real), it was extremely difficult to do what you’ve been practicing and studying when you have to pretend this patient in front of you is real and you don’t have the ability to perform all the skills in full. So now we’re not only nervous first year students trying to figure out what we’re doing, but we have to pretend to do the full assessment(s).
Although virtual reality is geared more towards medical students (as opposed to nursing students), it’s still something that should be seen as a huge advancement. Medical students are able to perform ‘hands on’ procedures, however, rather than doing so on a real patient, no harm can be done to the virtual one. In addition, the environment is safer and more controlled. In comparison to a clinical setting, in which the environment is fast paced and quick thinking, virtual reality allows for time to practice and precision this is especially helpful when a surgical procedure is rarely done. In addition, the hope is to eventually integrate virtual reality training to CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training.With all of this being said, the ever changing and advancing industries of both virtual reality and healthcare education, it’ll be interesting to see how, from here, we can grow and improve in both industries. Regardless, the future of education in the healthcare field is everchanging and my hope is that virtual reality becomes integral and important part of it.