Virtual reality in nursing

This article looks at the adoption of virtual reality by the nursing profession who use it train nurses in hospital and other similar environments.

This technology is already used by the medical profession but has attracted interest from the nursing profession as well who recognise the usefulness of this technology.

Virtual reality training simulations

Desktop virtual reality is used in training simulations for example midwifery, where the trainee midwife is taught essential skills. She (or he) is able to gain experience by interacting with virtual patients alongside ‘hands on’ situations. What virtual reality does is to move beyond the lecture theatre and textbooks by enabling the student to participate in a realistic scenario where they can apply their newly acquired skills.

It is also useful for those members of staff who need to refresh their skills or brush up on certain aspects of their training due to a change in their circumstances. For example, they may have been assigned to an obstetrics ward which means learning a new set of skills associated with that specialism.

Nursing and Second Life

Another form of virtual reality used for training purposes is Second Life. Second Life is an online virtual world where people create their own environments and interact with others. They do this by using 3D virtual humans or avatars which act as their alter ego. They use these avatars to communicate with other people, engage in activities or learn new skills.

And having a virtual nursing college or faculty is one way in which Second Life can help train the next generation of nurses complete with ongoing assessment and review. The advantage of this is that the trainee nurses undertake assignments and other similar projects which teach them about patient care but without compromising the student or the patient.

We discuss the use of this technology in more detail in our virtual reality in nursing education article.

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