Embody Alfred: A Virtual Reality Experience
Concurrent Session 7
Virtual reality (VR) is a high-impact emerging learning experience that is rapidly growing. Experience how nursing students have been immersed in virtual learning to impact preparation for practice.
Undergraduate nurse preparation is inclusive of a holistic, caring framework with patients of varied ages across a health-illness continuum (AACN, 2008). The need for students to understand the impact of chronic disease, including vision and hearing loss, and aspects of dementia, are important in current society where there is an increasing age of patients requiring healthcare. Class readings and discussion offer background information for student; clinical experiences are often by chance. Foronda et al. (2017) notes three characteristics unique to VR: a digitally simulated world, immersion in that simulated world, and the ability of the learner to interact with/within the simulation. The significance of the virtual learning experience can be highly impacting in a relatively short sequence of time. Embodied Labs is a VR audio-visual immersion experience using Oculus goggles, where the learner becomes someone with chronic disease, i.e., Alfred (vision and hearing loss) or Beatriz (advancing dementia).
To explore the use of VR simulation in clinical courses using Embodied Labs, data was collected from students groups to evaluate learning experiences by obtaining pre- and post-surveys. There were two active VR experiences integrated into nursing courses: Alfred, a 74-year old male with hearing and vision impairment; and, Beatriz, a 66-year old woman with advancing dementia. Student response to the integrated VR experience was overwhelmingly positive from students supporting VR as an innovative approach.
Nursing education continues to need to find innovative and diverse ways to improve students’ understanding of patient perspectives, to provide safe, holistic patient-centered care. Building empathy in the curriculum would broaden the horizons for how we can continue to improve teaching, impacting knowledge, skills, and attitudes in higher education. Both quantitative and qualitative results of this innovative strategy reflect the positive impact to student learning. The data from this project integrating VR into nursing curriculum appears to have potential as a high-impact emerging technology in higher education.