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Industry Challenges
June 13, 2023

Preparing Nursing Students for Pediatric Nursing with Immersive Virtual Reality

Author

Maria D'Errico
DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE, CHSE, CHSOS
Director of Simulation & Scholarship

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Are your nursing students ready to care for children and provide health care to families? Are they expressing some anxiety surrounding their interactions with kids? Can we better prepare our students in nursing school to boost their confidence in caring for a pediatric patient? UbiSim can help to better prepare students in your nursing program for this specialized area of nursing practice.

A nursing student participating in an immersive virtual reality scenario with UbiSim
A nursing student participating in an immersive virtual reality scenario with UbiSim 

Benefits of Immersive VR Simulation in Nursing

The use of immersive virtual reality (VR) in nursing education has been revolutionizing the way nursing students are trained, particularly when it comes to preparing them for specialized areas of care such as pediatric care nursing . It can be challenging to expose students to a variety of clinical settings due to a lack of clinical placements or time constraints. While some teaching methods such as lectures, case studies, or skills practice are important and necessary for students to gain knowledge in the care of children, they do not always offer a complete approach to knowledge application. This is where UbiSim simulations are especially helpful! Immersive VR simulation allows nursing students the opportunity to apply their collective skills and knowledge of pediatric nursing to a realistic and challenging learning experience.

Developing Clinical Judgement Skills When Caring for Children

Developing clinical judgment skills is essential for nursing students as they move into their careers as practicing nurses. UbiSim-authored scenarios are designed with the NCSBN Clinical Judgment Measurement Model in mind. It is crucial that students are able to apply their cognitive knowledge to make safe clinical decisions in pediatric nursing. When sick, children may be able to compensate for quite some time but decline very rapidly. Reacting promptly and appropriately in this type of clinical experience by using clinical judgment skills improves patient care and outcomes.

Research demonstrates VR simulations are effective in helping students develop clinical reasoning skills needed for clinical judgment . UbiSim scenarios support the development of the six steps of clinical judgment when caring for young patients. Students can practice recognizing and analyzing cues by performing a physical assessment on the patient and gathering information from the child and their caregiver. Students will need to prioritize hypotheses and generate solutions based on the priority needs of the child. The student can take action by administering medications, performing interventions or communicating further with the child. Evaluating outcomes in UbiSim can occur by reassessing the patient, asking appropriate questions of the child and determining if interventions were successful or not.

Immersive VR Can Help Improve Student’s Confidence

UbiSim is a great addition for nursing programs to help students gain the confidence and abilities they need to prepare them for pediatric nursing. Our immersive VR simulations help students to develop their therapeutic communication skills with pediatric patients. A study published in 2023 provides a report of many fears and emotions nursing students experience during pediatric clinical practice.

Many students reported feelings of anxiety, helplessness or sadness due to seeing a sick child. Expressions of fear surrounding administering medications and treatments to children was a frequently expressed concern. Another common theme was lack of confidence due to uncertainty of how to communicate with children of various ages or how to explain a treatment or diagnosis. By participating in a simulation within a safe and controlled environment, learners can work through these concerns, apply their knowledge to a realistic clinical situation with a sick child, and confidently care for pediatric patients and their families.

Contact us for a free demo today to help your students feel better prepared to provide care to children!
Nursing student providing support and developmentally appropriate care to a pediatric patient
Nursing student providing support and developmentally appropriate care to a pediatric patient 

Practicing Developmentally Appropriate Communication with Children

Therapeutic communication is a fundamental aspect of nursing care and is especially important when working with pediatric patients. Effective communication builds trust between the child and nurse, minimizes anxiety, reduces fear, and improves patient outcomes. However, communicating with children can be challenging.

At times, a child may have limited communication skills and may not fully understand their medical condition or treatment. A child can be hesitant to cooperate with the nursing or provider team due to fear. Children also require specialized education using specific words and language to explain procedures in a developmentally appropriate way. This is where immersive VR simulations can be particularly useful. Learning soft skills through VR has been shown to be more effective than classroom training by improving confidence, allowing for less distractions during the learning activity and creating an environment in which an emotional connection can be established.

For example, a scenario may involve a child who is anxious and afraid to receive an injection . The nurse learner must explain the procedure in a developmentally appropriate way that will not further frighten the child, while also maintaining honesty about the pain involved with the injection. The learner can practice explaining the procedure by thoughtfully choosing their words; instead of using words like pain or shot, they should use terms such as pinch or poke. They must use therapeutic communication to calm the child and offer support throughout the process. This is accomplished by acknowledging feelings instead of grazing over a child’s expressions of fear and administering the injection without properly preparing the patient.

The use of immersive VR simulations allows student nurses to practice this skill and make mistakes in an environment without repercussions. This thereby prepares them for actual practice to be effective in accomplishing their nursing duties while minimizing trauma for children receiving medical care

Watch a nurse learner interact with our pediatric patient Lucas!

Incorporating Family-Centered Care

A parent or caregiver is an important person in a child’s life and thus can influence how and what care is provided to the child. Nursing students need to be informed on providing family-centered care, which can include how they approach a patient’s family member and include them in the treatment plan.

Students can practice communicating with family members during UbiSim scenarios. When caregivers have specific questions about their child’s medication or symptoms, students can provide education. Students have the opportunity to ask a parent questions to better understand how to support their child during treatment or how to individualize care to incorporate cultural beliefs. Students can also practice communication to encourage family members to be a part of the child’s care and course of treatment. Collaborating with caregivers and family builds relationships and shows empathy, ultimately allowing for the child to feel strengthened by having their family member involved in their care.

A nursing student interacting with the patient and family member during a UbiSim scenario
A nursing student interacting with the patient and family member during a UbiSim scenario
Are you ready to implement UbiSim into your pediatric curriculum? Contact us for a free demo today!

Conclusion

Providing nursing care to pediatric patients requires more than just technical expertise. It requires the ability to provide therapeutic communication, education, and emotional support to the child and their caregiver. The role of the pediatric nurse is essential in ensuring that the child receives the best possible care and support during their treatment. UbiSim’s immersive VR platform can help nursing students build confidence, reduce anxiety, improve clinical judgment skills, practice developmentally appropriate therapeutic communication with a sick child and incorporate a family-centered approach when working with pediatric patients. By repeatedly practicing communication and education skills in a realistic virtual reality environment, students can become more comfortable and better prepared to interact with real patients, whether they want to become a certified pediatric nurse or an RN who inevitably works with pediatric patients.

Interested in trying UbiSim in your healthcare institution?
Request a Demo
Maria D'Errico
Director of Simulation & Scholarship

Maria was a founding leader of the simulation design team for UbiSim, the world's first immersive VR platform for nursing. Working with partners across the globe, Maria empowered nurse leaders to successfully integrate immersive VR simulation into nursing curricula.

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