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Middlesex University nursing students use virtual reality in training
Nursing students at Middlesex University are using virtual reality simulations to learn how to manage conditions such as sepsis.
While wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets, students ask patients questions to diagnose their condition and decide on the best treatment, before receiving feedback and grades using analytics from the headset, which they then evaluate with their tutors.
An example of one simulation includes a patient with sepsis who presents with a number of symptoms, including shortness of breath, discoloured skin and shivering.
Sarah Chitongo, a midwifery educator at Middlesex University said: "Sepsis is one of the key scenarios because it is a time critical condition.
"You have an hour to ensure that the diagnosis is made and appropriate prescribed antibiotics are administered as every hour delay increases the patient’s mortality rate by 8%."
She added: "Sepsis destroys internal vital organs. One of the first clinical indications is looking at the patient’s clinical presentation."
Middlesex University is also recreating real life scenarios for managing other conditions such as COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), severe allergies and diabetes. VR enables students to do so without putting patients’ lives at risk – students are able to make mistakes without repercussions.
Head of clinical skills department Fiona Suthers said: "The students can feel empowered to make decisions that they wouldn’t feel comfortable making [otherwise] because they can make mistakes safely and take more risks – which enhances their learning process.
"We learn best when learning from experience and our system will allow users at Middlesex to do just that - without putting patient’s lives at risk," said Dr Jack Pottle, chief medical officer of Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS), which supplied the headsets.
Currently, third year adult nursing students and paediatric postgraduates at the university are using the virtual wards – but there are plans to make the technology available to midwifery students later in 2020.
Middlesex joins more than 30 institutions around the UK using the OMS virtual reality medical training platform and is one of the first universities to roll out the technology for nursing students.
There is no doubt that we are becoming more and more reliant upon technology and that we are likely to see further significant developments, especially as far as the use of virtual reality is concerned, in the coming years. The fact that such tools are being used to train student nurses is only to be welcomed. Indeed, the ability to improve upon the skills of all medical practitioners, whilst avoiding risk to patients, has to be one of the most valuable implications of our changing world.
Lesley Herbertson is a Partner in our renowned Clinical Negligence team. Should you wish to speak to Lesley abot any aspect of this article or with regards to Clinical Negligence, please call 0800 027 2557 today, or fill out a contact form on the side of this page. Alternatively, contact Lesley directly here.