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VR learning for nursing students

Getting practical training in nursing requires many resources. Can virtual reality technology make it more efficient?

The photo shows a student in front of a computer.
The VR simulations train the students in what information about a patient to pass on before surgery, among other things.

“Many employees are involved in the preparation for practice learning for nursing students, and the learning outcomes are also good. Now we want to find out how virtual reality on a computer can be used and compare learning outcomes”, says Eva Mari Andreasen, who is a PhD research fellow at the Department of Health and Nursing Sciences at UiA.

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer simulation. It gives the user the experience of being someplace else and must be detailed enough for the user to be immersed in it. 

Bilete av stipendiat Eva Marie Andreasen.

PhD Research Fellow Eva Marie Andreasen takes a closer look at the use of VR as a learning activity in her research.

Need for quantity training

Andreasen writes her doctoral degree about various learning activities, and the use of VR is the activity she focuses on. It is especially when preparing nursing students for practice placements that VR can play a central role.

“We have long seen a need for different types of learning activities to prepare for practice placements, and VR can potentially be one of them. The fact that this can be done using a computer program and not in a simulated situation using living people makes it easier to get quantity training. The program is easily reset, which gives the students more repetitions. The students say that it is a fun way to learn”, Andreasen says.

Åsne Knutson de Presno is programme coordinator of the Bachelor of Nursing at UiA in Kristiansand. She is pleased that new student-active learning activities are being tried out.

“We currently have around 900 nursing students, and the number is increasing. The study programme is relatively demanding and includes 50 per cent practice-based learning, among other things. All the students will go through simulation training before undertaking their practice placements, and with so many students we face some logistical challenges in terms of quantity training. New technology can help us with this”, says de Presno. 

“We need more knowledge”

The simulated reality in Andreasen’s research is an ordinary hospital, and the students are given tasks and have to interact with each other through a computer program.

“The students talk to each other through microphones and get to try their hand at different tasks. This could, for example, be what information it is important to pass on about a patient before surgery. Students will practice speaking, getting important information across and being specific. Research shows that failure in communication is a key factor for when mistakes are made in hospitals”, Andreasen says.

“It is great that Eva Mari Andreasen is researching this type of learning activity. We need more knowledge about which activities lead to better learning, and how we can use learning activities to improve the education even more”, says programme coordinator de Presno.