Complementing VR simulation with physical simulation

How do physical simulation and VR software simulation complement each other?

Technology has improved humans’ lives across the globe. Advanced, cutting-edge technology tools play a crucial role in different disciplines, including health education. It has streamlined the medical field, from the invention of X-ray machines and advances in surgical methods to virtual reality (VR) software simulation.

All simulation plays an essential role in medical education, transitioning students from academic learners to practicing clinicians. Simulation in healthcare education serves different purposes, including a training technique for learners.

It allows individuals and teams to experience realistic clinical challenges through mannequins, task trainers, VR software simulation, in-situ approaches, standardized patients, and other hybrid forms.

The question is: how do physical simulation and VR simulation complement each other? Is the hybrid or integrative approach beneficial for medical students? In today’s article, we will answer these questions. Read on!

Physical Simulation

Physical simulations often involve manikins and mannequins that learners in the medical field use to practice their skills in real-time before assessing or treating a patient first-hand. Although medical institutions have been using standardized patients in training for many years, advanced technologies have allowed for using digital patient models.

Health institutions use manikins to represent patient simulation models, allowing students to learn more effectively and reliably. Institutions use physical simulations for advancing learners’ clinical skills through assessments.

That way, medical and healthcare students can develop and practice skills beyond the knowledge obtained through a standard textbook education. Moreover, physical simulation allows students to practice diagnostic methods and procedures on computer-based models in realistic clinical settings. For instance, they use manikins to practice and develop skills in:

·      Airway Complications

·      Cardiac Complications

·      Circulation diagnostic skills

·      Diagnostic skill building

·      Vascular skill development

·      Defibrillation, Cardiover, and Pace

·      CPR skill building

·      Hypoxic Modeling

·      Breech and Placental Deliveries

·      IV Drug Administration

·      Diagnostic sounds and modules

·      Urinary catheterization

·      Pulmonary System skill development

·      And many more

VR Software Simulation

Virtual reality and augmented reality have transformed medical education. It has become a cornerstone of medical education and clinical training. VR software simulation is an effective method to mitigate the risks associated with standardization and increasing budgets.

Therefore, institutions use immersive VR simulations to benefit their learners and educators. The purpose is to deliver standardized, repeatable, and cost-effective clinical training on demand.

A growing body of research evidence supports VR software simulations in healthcare education. Although VR is not the ultimate solution, it is a powerful educational tool that students can use to improve their clinical skills. Remember, VR is a tool for defined objectives and is growing worldwide.

VR software simulation allows students to view the internal structures of the human body in a virtual environment, enabling them to perform a wide range of tasks, including anatomical, pathological, maternity care, and physical and radiological examinations, with a 360 degrees view. Benefits of VR software simulation include:

·      24/7 learning without wasting resources

·      Corrective feedback in real-time

·      Assess skill competence with objective data

·      Practice medical procedures, including surgeries

·      Realistic experiences that lead to improved learning

The Combination of Physical and VR Simulations – A Hybrid Strategy

Medical colleges and healthcare institutions combine physical and VR software simulations for enhanced learning and realistic experiences. Experts say that a hybrid approach is more beneficial for medical and healthcare students than using a single method.

Some instances do not allow learners to practice procedures and develop skills using a single method. For example, VR simulations enable students to assess psychomotor skills. However, students use hand-held devices to perform these procedures, preventing them from assessing fine motor movements.

Remember, students can assess fine motor movements better using manikin models. Likewise, inserting intravenous injections or catheters is difficult with VR software simulations. That’s why the combined or hybrid approach is a much better way to develop clinical skills.  

On the other hand, students can use VR simulations to take a history, examine, investigate, diagnose, analyze, and treat the patient. For example, a patient with spinal pain has arrived in the emergency department (ED), so the student can use virtual ED to interact with the patient in a real-life-like environment.

Likewise, the student can add family members and interdisciplinary teams, have realistic conversations, and perform other tasks as in real life. So, each technology offers unique benefits but also has downsides. Thus, institutions use a hybrid approach to mitigate the risks and downsides associated with individual technologies.

Final Words

Both physical simulation and VR software simulation make clinical experiences simple for learners. Students can use manikins and VR systems and participate in physical or virtual simulations whenever they like to improve their clinical skills. So, institutions that focus on a hybrid approach can streamline medical education and clinical training modules for their students. Until Next Time!

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