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Industry Challenges
December 18, 2023

Immersive Learning: Exploring the World of Medical VR Training


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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Imagine slipping on a VR headset and instantly finding yourself in a meticulously simulated hospital room. There, a patient's condition is worsening, and it's up to you to intervene. This isn't reality, but it's as close as it gets. 

Welcome to the world of immersive medical VR training, where every decision you make carries weight without the risk of real-life harm. This cutting-edge approach to education isn't just for those beginning their medical careers, like budding nurses; it's also a powerful tool for seasoned professionals seeking to refine their skills, such as surgeons.

A 2020 study found that 68% of XR/AR/VR/MR experts believe virtual and augmented reality will have a significant role in medical education and clinical skills moving forward. 

In this article, we’re going to cover the definition of VR medical training, its benefits, some potential downfalls, a use case, and how to implement it in your healthcare organization.

What Is VR Medical Training?

VR medical training is the use of virtual reality to simulate realistic training scenarios for healthcare professionals. It provides an immersive learning experience that helps improve knowledge and practical skills in a safe environment. 

How VR Advances Traditional Medical Training

Benefits of Medical VR Training

Realistic and immersive training environment: Medical VR training excels in providing a realistic and immersive environment that closely replicates real-life medical scenarios. This technology creates a virtual world where healthcare professionals can interact with lifelike simulations. An example of this effectiveness is shared in a study that found pharmaceutical students experiencing a heightened sense of realism during their medical VR training. 

Simulate complex medical procedures and scenarios without risks to patients: With medical VR training, healthcare professionals can simulate complex medical procedures and scenarios without putting real patients at risk. This allows for extensive practice and skill development in a safe and controlled environment.

Cost-effective scaling: VR training is a cost-effective solution for medical education when considering its use for multiple years across participants. It reduces the need for expensive physical equipment and facilities, minimizes the costs associated with organizing live training sessions, and eliminates the risk of damaging expensive medical equipment. By providing a virtual platform, VR training reduces the overall expenses involved in medical training programs. 

Enhance practical skills and confidence: VR training offers a hands-on approach to learning, allowing medical professionals to actively engage in simulated procedures. By providing a platform for repeatedrepetitive practice, VR training enhances practical skills and builds confidence, making healthcare professionals more proficient in performing actual procedures. A review study shares that “95% of the studies that have been studied emphasize the improvement of the skills of trainees (various medical groups) using virtual reality.” 

Highly interactive and customizable learning experience: Medical VR training offers a highly interactive and customizable learning experience. Users can actively participate and manipulate virtual objects, enhancing engagement and knowledge retention. The ability to tailor the training to individual needs and skill levels further optimizes the learning experience.

UbiSim’s immersive virtual platform for nursing has an Intuitive Editor that enables users to quickly and easily create new scenarios from scratch.

Ability to repeat simulations multiple times for mastery of skills: VR training allows for repeated simulations, enabling healthcare professionals to refine their skills and achieve mastery. This iterative practice approach promotes continuous improvement and ensures that medical professionals are well-prepared for challenging situations.

Minimize the potential for errors during real-life situations: By practicing in a virtual environment, healthcare professionals can identify and correct errors without consequences to patients. This helps minimize the potential for mistakes during real-life situations, leading to improved patient safety and outcomes. A recent study found “VR clinical skills training resulted in a 40% reduction in medical error rates.”

Foster collaborative learning and teamwork among healthcare professionals: Medical VR training fosters collaborative learning and teamwork by facilitating communication and cooperation among healthcare professionals. The virtual environment enables multidisciplinary interactions, encouraging mutual understanding and coordinated decision-making.

Reduction of stress when training: Stress is pervasive in the medical field, especially since there’s a real risk to patients. A 2020 recent study on how virtual reality training affects interns found that 68% of nursing trainees and 58% of medical trainees felt less worried about needlestick or sharp injury prevention after VR-based training. 

Limitations of VR & How to Address Them

1. Technical Requirements: One limitation of VR training is the need for specific hardware and software. To address this, organizations can invest in scalable VR setups that medical professionals can easily access. Additionally, advancements in VR technology are leading to more affordable and user-friendly options.

2. Motion Sickness: It's rare, but some individuals may experience motion sickness or discomfort when using VR devices for prolonged periods. To address this, VR training should incorporate breaks and gradually increase exposure time to help users acclimate to the virtual environment.

3. Cost: Implementing VR training programs can require upfront investments in equipment, software, and training resources. To address cost limitations, organizations can explore partnerships with VR training providers or seek funding opportunities to support the integration of VR into medical training programs.

Example of a Successful Medical VR Training Initiative

In Minnesota, Monarch Healthcare Management is launching UbiSim’s immersive nursing VR platform for nurses across 22 sites. They’re using virtual reality to standardize education for their practices across sites, focusing on standardizing pain management for all nurses.

Here’s a quote from Marcus Kubichek, their Robot Program Director, “We chose to work with the UbiSim platform because it's innovative, cost-effective, and a wonderful product that has the potential to improve standardization across an organization.”

How to Get Started With VR Training in Healthcare

1. Understand the benefits of VR training.
2. Identify the areas of healthcare where VR training can be applied.
3. Research available VR platforms, such as UbiSim for nursing.
4. Take a look at your budget and request or apply for additional funds as needed.
5. Assess the hardware requirements, including VR headsets and controllers.
6. Collaborate with industry experts for insights and guidance.
7. Develop customized training programs tailored to your needs.
8. Train your staff.
9. Continually evaluate and refine your VR training programs.

Final Thoughts

Medical VR training is revolutionizing the way healthcare professionals learn and refine their skills. Could VR enhance your existing training? Take the leap into the world of medical VR training and unlock the potential for innovation and excellence in healthcare education.

Are you looking for a way to train your nurses or nursing students? Check out UbiSim, the world's first VR platform built just for nursing. Request a demo today. 
Interested in trying UbiSim in your healthcare institution?
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Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

As an integral center of UbiSim's content team, Ginelle pens stories on the rapidly changing landscape of VR in nursing simulation. Ginelle is committed to elevating the voices of practicing nurses, nurse educators, and program leaders who are making a difference.

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