Simulation offers medical students unique learning opportunities, improving their clinical abilities, communication, decision-making, and teamwork skills. Learning experiences with simulation can accommodate learners, including novices and experts. It gives students in clinical settings the opportunity to make and learn from mistakes.
Research shows that simulation provides feedback and assessment opportunities and streamlines the teaching-learning process. For instance, a birth simulator is a cutting-edge lifelike manikin that mimics a woman undergoing the stages of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Labor or childbirth simulators are complex manikins and require thorough maintenance. So, these can cost a lot of money in the long run. On the other hand, a 2018 study published in PubMed Central highlights that virtual reality (VR) simulation is a high-tech technology that consists of various input and output tools. VR simulations allow students to align theoretical and practical knowledge, learn and implement safety protocols during childbirth, and perform repetitive tasks to improve clinical skills.
Research shows that VR is one of the most effective ways to practice labor and help a woman prepare for delivery based on evidence-based information. Students can use childbirth simulators anytime and anywhere in a comfortable, engaging, and immersive environment. Students wear a headset and experience a realistic environment during a VR simulation of childbirth. As well as getting accustomed to a clinical setting and environment, the goal is to understand how a mother in labor feels and experiences.
The procedure is followed by feedback, evaluation, and debriefing, allowing students to learn from their mistakes. Thus, VR simulation is an excellent way to reduce the risk of complications and prepare students for the clinical situation.
Virtual reality (VR) medical simulations are powerful tools to improve clinical knowledge and soft skills, including communication, teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving, attitude, confidence, empathy, professionalism, conflict resolution, and other skills.
Educational institutions that run medical simulation facilities with manikins experience high costs. Not only do manikins require dedicated space, but they are also labor-intensive and require thorough maintenance. Manikins are expensive, and high-fidelity simulations require a constant supply of material for teaching or learning labor-related protocols, standards, and procedures. Most educational institutions have a limited number of manikins, forcing them to schedule training from time to time. As a result, this causes disruption in the learning process for students because they wait for days to practice the learned skills.
According to the National Library of Medicine, an educational institution or training center with a one-month clinical course for ten students costs more than $64,000, translating to $530 per student.
Although there is a need for extensive cost-analysis studies on VR simulations, some studies show that this technology can reduce costs for educational institutions and training centers.
Unlike manikins, VR childbirth simulations do not require a dedicated space, meaning a student can move in a limited space to perform the activity efficiently, reliably, and safely.
In addition, full-time instructors and staff are not necessary for streamlining simulation-based training. In addition, students can practice and learn at their own pace and time at home. However, institutions must implement premium-quality, reliable, and tested training software. An institution can, for example, buy several standalone VR headsets at more affordable prices and use them for several types of simulations instead of purchasing a specific, costly high-fidelity manikin.VR simulation reduces the time of each simulation session, decreases in-person supervision by an instructor, and allows all students to streamline the learning process. Therefore, investing in childbirth VR simulation is an informed and cost-effective decision.
Compared to high-fidelity childbirth manikins, VR simulation is the clear winner because it provides immersion, versatility, value, reliability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, making it a sound investment for institutions to streamline learning for gynecology and midwifery students.