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Nursing XR

A virtual nursing simulation created by The VR Hive for The University of the West of Scotland to help students in BSc Nursing & Midwifery courses gain experiential training while studying remotely.

Year: 2021-22 Duration: 7 months Platform: Oculus Quest 2 Industry: Healthcare


The Client

The University of the West of Scotland aims to have a transformational influence on the economic, social and cultural development of the west of Scotland and beyond. UWS is officially recognised by Times Higher Education in the top 600 of universities worldwide (2022 World University Rankings). It is also in the top 150 of universities worldwide under 50 years old (2022 Young University Rankings).

The Problem

During the pandemic, Universities shut down and moved to “remote learning”. As a result of this sudden shift, critical issues were revealed about education’s weak adoption of online technologies. Consequently, remote teaching affected students who needed to practise real-world skills in a practical environment.

The Solution

The VR Hive together with UWS had an exciting and progressive idea to use Virtual Reality to build a nursing simulator. This resource would provide a practical experience whereby nurses could practise skills in a safe and experiential environment. The scope of the project was to simulate some of the tasks that nursing practitioners must prioritise and handle while working in the field. This includes patient prioritisation, preparation of treatment materials/equipment, environmental/holistic risk assessment, patient dialogue, conducting treatment and post-treatment care options.

Nursing XR - Virtually Simulated Triage

The Results

The Nursing XR simulation exceeded the intended aims of the project. The collaborative development approach meant that The VR Hive developed the application alongside experts in the field of nursing. As a result, our immersive designers created a product that enabled student nurses to undertake decision making, risk assessment and wound management. The simulation also elicited collaboration and discussion on prioritisation of patients, treatments, and holistic assessment of the patient environment.

Dr Gilardi, Lecturer at UWS, found that learners found the application valuable to their learning, particularly the immersion and presence induced by the simulation. Conclusively, student participants felt it was a safe space to experiment and learn without feeling judged, all while also having the ability to discuss decision making and interactions with their peers. As a result, the simulator increased their knowledge and skills development and retention.

Evaluation Of Student Participation

The development and implementation of Nursing XR resulted in Dr Gilardi publishing a paper on the effectiveness of immersive tools across learners from UWS’s BSC Nursing and Midwifery degrees. Here is some of the feedback from the learners:

“I personally felt I was back on a placement at a patient’s door thinking; I should do this before I go in, I should ask this before I go in.”

“I thought it was quite real. I felt quite immersed in the experience, there were a couple of things that felt natural for me when I was moving around the room and when I got to the [patient’] home.”

Next Steps

This nursing simulation is just the beginning. Evidently, UWS were very impressed with Nursing XR. As such, The VR Hive is beginning to improve the experience by adding more patients with different needs. This type of immersive learning is imperative if we are going to be moving to hybrid education. It allows for experiential learning and an accelerated speed at which nursing and other learners gain skills needed to get on wards. Not only is the immersive experience about practical tasks, but also developing effective communication and crucial observation skills vital to nursing practice.

The VR Hive are also working with UWS to build an educational immersive platform, a a place where Colleges, Universities, and Businesses can access immersive, experiential learning from anywhere in the world.

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