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VR helps nurses prepare for the work of healing


A new tool is helping educate health care staff with hands-on experience beyond inpatient clinics. Virtual Reality (VR), once thought only to be for games and entertainment, has found a home in education.

SSM Health Illinois has begun offering VR training for employees in the region. The program was first launched in the St. Louis region and was pioneered by Beth Moore, SSM Health Simulation Center Manager, and her team.

“We knew we needed to reach audiences in different regions,” Moore said. “Very few hospital systems utilize this technology for health care training. COVID helped propel education into the virtual field,” she continued.

The SSM Health Simulation Center in St. Louis assists with onboard training and continuous development. The team spans multiple disciplines to help with educational needs. Moore describes educational VR as an artificial environment, which is experienced through sensory stimuli provided by a computer in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.

For SSM Health, these virtual simulations provide real-time, realistic training, which prepares learners for future patient care scenarios. VR immerses them into a clinical setting where the communication and interactions provided to the patient determine the outcomes.

“VR is not meant to replace in-person training but enhance and work with it,” said Moore. “VR gives the opportunity to work remotely and have multiple learners from different locations working in the same simulation. Educators are moderators of the simulations. It’s neat to see their aha moments when working through the simulations,” she added.

Judy Polczynski, Manager of Clinical Education for SSM Health Illinois is excited to see the technology come to Southern Illinois.

“The Clinical Education Department has recently obtained equipment for virtual reality (VR) simulations. This is very exciting! The Education team had a training day where we were initially introduced to this method of simulation/teaching. One of the benefits of this method of simulation is that we can run our own sims, or we can collaborate with another region and run a sim with them,” she added.

Training health care professionals by utilizing VR is an innovative tool that can be used to support and enhance the staff’s initial orientation. VR can be used as a single person or within a group moderated by a trained individual.

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