GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — One university in the Piedmont Triad is making sure when its nursing students graduate, they’re prepared to take care of you and your loved ones.
UNC Greensboro’s School of Nursing is using virtual reality to give students real-life experiences in the health care field. The simulation is unlike any other students have experienced. With this program, they have access to more than 200 scenarios.
Unlike practicing on a mannequin, the VR simulation gives them a patient who can talk and react like a human would. It’s technology they believe could change nursing education.
“You really feel like you’re in the clinical setting in those headsets,” said Lauren McWhinnie, a senior nursing student.
With the touch of a button, McWhinnie is transported into the exam room with a patient who needs her help. She goes through each step of her assessment thoroughly as if she’s really there.
“It’s really testing your cues and like picking up things like you would have to do as a real nurse,” she said. “I think it’s going to make me a great nurse just getting some extra time in those headsets.”
McWhinnie and her fellow senior nursing students are some of the first to try the university’s new virtual reality program.
“We can get that practice knowing exactly what we need to do and like honing in on our strengths and our weaknesses,” said Flora Walters-Clift, a senior nursing student.
Their professor, Dr. Lindsay Draper, knows this technology will help produce better nurses.
“Nursing education is very hands-on,” Draper said. “Not only hands-on but getting to interact with people and those communication skills. And this VR technology married both of those skills to have them practice with their hands with their critical thinking.”
It can also help recruit more nursing students.
“This is just one way to target their education in a way that reaches them beyond the textbook,” Draper said.
The scenarios also give students a way to explore without fear of failure.
“It’s more one-on-one and we don’t have the addition of other people like watching us,” said Amber Resendez, a senior nursing student. “Then we can kind of experience more.”
Because this technology is so new, these students and Draper are still figuring out all it can offer. They know it will help students gain confidence and competence before they graduate and set them apart from others entering the field.
“You are the nurse, like you’re making those decisions, thinking about all the safety aspects and you don’t really get that opportunity until you’re a new grad without using this,” McWhinnie said.
The university has more than a dozen headsets being used by undergrad and graduate students. After completing a simulation, students get a grade and tips on what they can improve on.