Immersive education: evaluating virtual reality in clinical decision-making
Carol Oldroyd, MSc, BSc (Hons), PGCE, RN, RNT; Alison Day, PhD, MSc, PGCE, BSc (Hons), RN
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Session E presented Friday, September 15, 2017
Purpose: Experiential learning in virtual reality offers students a way of learning that is active, participatory and unique. Virtual reality (VR) enables active learning within a theoretical framework of ‘situated cognition’, enabling students to feel a sense of presence in the virtual environment. This approach encourages students to apply and practice learned content in realistic environments, which is vital for healthcare practitioners. This study evaluates the use of virtual reality (VR) within healthcare education. Firstly, evaluating the use/experience of using VR and secondly, determining whether undergraduate students find this immersive method of education useful for enhancing their clinical decision making.
Design: The study utilises a qualitative semi-structured questionnaire to evaluate participants' perceptions and experience of an immersive VR educational clinical scenario. The questionnaire explored previous VR experience, specific evaluation of the immersive clinical educational package and general feedback.
Setting: The study occured within the Faculty of Health at a Higher Education Institution.
Participants/Subjects: The convenience sample consisted of 29 first year undergraduate paramedic students undertaking a 2 year program leading to a Paramedic Science degree. Ethical approval was obtained from the local Ethics Committee.
Methods: The 360 degree video was filmed within a simulated community residence. The experience comprised of a choking scenario in which participants were invited to undertake the role of a healthcare professional and make clinical decisions based on what they could see. Situational awareness was incorporated by including various hazards within the scenario. To participate, students were informed that they needed access to a smartphone with an in-built acceleromoter, a QR scanner plus headphones. This video was shown to the students through a VR immersive headset. After watching the video, students were presented with a questionnaire to evaluate their exposure.
Results/Outcomes: Responses (n=29) indicated that 97% of students found this to be an engaging experience. 90% of students felt that the scenario resembled a real decision-making experience and that the experience enhanced their situational awareness. Participants stated "it makes you able to make clinical decisions in real situations" and "a great way to explore a scene in the classroom". Only 17% of participants had some previous experience of VR. 28% of participants noted that they felt self-conscious using the headsets. Limitations of the educational package included headset and audio quality issues which could be improved with advancing technology. Some students were restricted by their phone model, and needed to borrow a device to view the experience on.
Implications: This study showed that the use of VR within healthcare education enables students to engage in a practical way. This form of simulation offers an opportunity to engage with clinical scenarios in an immersive manner, developing clinical decision-making skills and situational awareness. The use of focused VR experiences allows students to explore clincial situations without risk to themselves or patients. Although this study focuses on one scenario, VR technology has numerous potential applications for the education of emergency care personnel. The team is now developing further immersive experiences, including orientation of a VR resuscitation bay within the Emergency Department (results pending).
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