How much does a simulation lab cost?

Many health institutions and professionals think that VR simulation-based learning is more expensive than physical simulation. Is this true?

Simulation labs provide personalized experiences to medical & healthcare students, allowing them to interact in a close-to-real environment. Labs contain task trainers, mannequins, simulated learning systems, equipment, debriefing applications, and video recording systems to improve learners’ skills.

Virtual reality (VR) is an advanced technology with numerous applications in the medical & healthcare field. It creates an artificial environment, allowing students to immerse themselves in the experience of performing health procedures offering all of the physical simulation lab’s functionality but in a fraction of the space.

For instance, putting a VR headset transports you to a new location or immersive environment where you can look around and interact with virtual objects to perform simulation exercises.

Many health institutions and professionals think that VR simulation-based learning is more expensive than physical simulation. Is this true?

Let us answer the question. Read on!

medical students in a room using Virtual Reality Headsets
University of Bangor students in their simulation lab

Simulation vs. In-hospital-costs Costs

Generally, establishing a virtual simulation lab gives the impression of investing in costly technological equipment and learning new training methods.

Although high-fidelity simulators are expensive, institutions can develop labs and facilitate medical & healthcare students training with low-fidelity mannequins to reduce equipment costs.

A growing body of research evidence shows that in-hospital training can reduce the need for conducting simulations in fully-equipped labs. That way, medical & healthcare institutions can reduce costs.

However, some clinical departments find it challenging to identify quality time to fit students into heavily occupied services. Numerous studies have performed cost comparisons of simulation labs and in-hospital education.

Researchers have focused on various factors, such as planning, developing, and implementing simulation-based and physical interventions.

Researchers conclude that establishing virtual reality simulation labs are slightly more expensive. However, the cost depends on the quality of equipment, modules, software, and exercise time.

On the other hand, the repeated training advantage offered by VR-based simulations can reduce costs and improve student outcomes in the long term. Some studies show that the cost can actually be reduced per student.

In contrast, the cost of physical in-hospital education remains fixed because medical & healthcare staff need to spend time on the equipment with the students and disposables to perform healthcare procedures.

Therefore, making an initial investment in VR-based technologies does not add high costs over time.

Cost of simulation in nursing education

The cost of simulation in nursing education can be quite high. The cost of the simulator, the cost of the software, the cost of the manikins, and the cost of the supplies can all add up.

However, the benefits of simulation in nursing education can be well worth the cost. Simulation can provide a realistic environment for students to learn and practice critical skills. Simulation can also help students to better understand the complexities of patient care.

Cost of high fidelity simulation mannequins

The cost of high fidelity simulation mannequins can vary quite a bit depending on the brand and features desired. Some basic models can be found for as little as a few thousand dollars, while more sophisticated versions with features like advanced temperature and respiration control can cost upwards of $30,000.

However, many believe that the benefits of using high-fidelity mannequins for training and education purposes far outweigh the cost.

Final Words

Although many institutions find it challenging to invest in simulation labs because they have tangible costs rather than intangible costs that in-hospital training has, there are solutions to save money and streamline the process.

For instance, medical institutions can realize the benefits of VR labs that offer savings in other areas. The real estate needed for a VR lab is very low compared to other teaching environments and furthermore reduced to zero when this simulation is not in use.

Marketing for the University or College can also help to reduce costs by offering a greater return on investment. Free word-of-mouth marketing or sometimes national media coverage can result from being one of the early adopters of this student-centered approach to learning.


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