JennyQ: When it comes to virtual reality simulations and healthcare education, how is VR changing medical training,
David: Frankly, it’s not. And, and you go, what? We’re talking about virtual reality. We’re talking about the newest thing. The best thing since sliced bread. And you’re saying it doesn’t help medical training.
Let me explain. The reason I made that profound statement is because in certain sectors of the medical community, they’ve had virtual reality for almost 20 years pertaining especially to surgery training and they’ve validated the technology. You can look up the statistics from 10, 15, 20 years ago and find that VR training statistically increases retention for surgeons looking for enhanced training on a specific procedure.
So the medical community has had VR training in very specific instances and training procedures, but the truth is VR technology of yesteryear and VR technology of today even though they share the same premise are two radically different approaches because of affordability.
VR training of today is a wonderful technology and tool in today’s world because of the fact that you can apply it. Not just to a few surgeons that have access to those simulators that were hugely expensive, but you can apply it clear down to the janitorial staff that is in the hospital, to that the task that they perform, which is keeping the hospitals sterile and clean and is vitally important.
And yet, unfortunately, they are underrated, nobody pays attention to the janitorial staff at a hospital, and yet they can keep infections down. They create a proper working environment where the nursing staff, the doctors, the surgeons can do their jobs. So, affordable VR training not only applies to doctors and surgeons but it can also be a real boon to training for other workers in the medical field such as facilities management and as I mentioned before even housecleaning.
All of those people can benefit from VR training because it allows you to put yourself in a specific set of circumstances, work on team building, work on the interaction between doctors and nurses. In an ED department, you’re getting prepped for pediatric trauma. You’re simulating collaboration, you’re creating a new form of supplemental training that is vitally important to our health and safety and, and frankly, to get well.
JennyQ: So you mentioned that VR has been used in the medical field for over 20 years. Do you know how much VR is used in medical training?
David: I can tell you that it is ever increasing. I don’t have any hard numbers, but if you watch the tech blogs you’ll see that a third of the posts pertaining to all the industries that VR can be applied to deal with the medical community.
JennyQ: VR training has been useful for the COVID pandemic during this Coronavirus outbreak, with the emergency rooms being crowded and enhanced use of intubation and ventilators.
David: I would say it was instrumental. And the reason being is that when you need to train a large volume of people and get them up to speed on a certain procedure, what, what more could you do, but use technology to help, and more specifically virtual technology to help.
Let’s face it a one-on-one hands-on training course is the best. Somebody’s showing you how to do a process or procedure, and then you do it. But if you don’t have that luxury because you’re having to train so many people, what’s the next best thing to that. And that’s using VR because virtual reality gives you that feeling of being able to perform that critical task and yet can be shared and distributed amongst a large volume of people.
VR technology gives you supplemental training where you’re in it and you feel it, and you’re not just passively looking at a PowerPoint presentation, a video, or still images. So yes, we’d like to have that one-on-one presentation when it comes to training in any form, but. Realistically, it’s not possible. So the next best thing is what’s brand new in the market and that is virtual reality.
JennyQ: And I wonder too, how much this saves on resources within the training budget to have to implement VR simulations versus hands-on training.
David: You know, that’s a good question. And I don’t know if I have the answer when it comes to, if you spend the resources to do one on one training, right? Or do you spend some resources to create training simulations that you can replicate 10 times, a hundred times, a thousand times, 10,000 times over? And once you build that initial body of content you have, it doesn’t cost you much more to distribute it to a wide audience. If you took that one person doing that one person training, how many people can that person train with the same amount of resources?
JennyQ: Right. It’s limited for sure.
David: And we’re not necessarily saying that VR will replace hands-on training, but it can certainly supplement it and make that training more efficient, more impactful, and more meaningful. And frankly, the trainees are walking away with a higher retention rate. Why spend the money, the time, and the energy to do the training, if you’re not getting the desired result. When we’re talking about implementing VR training in the medical field, they understand those procedures, they understand the processes, we’ve allocated the resources, and we made that interactive virtual reality training, accessible to everybody. And to a wide audience versus that one person that’s going to train 10 or 15 people.
David: So JennyQ… you’ve done a lot of research on VR training. What do you think the impact is in the medical field?
JennyQ: Well, the biggest impact on me, the most obvious thing is the opportunity for nurses and doctors and any support medical team to train with zero risks to them, and the patient. Let’s face it, you’re not practicing on a live patient. Therefore your liability goes way down, right? Because any errors that you make are not life or death consequence,
David: Shall we call them virtual errors?
There’s another advantage of VR training and that is for some adult learners that are looking to new learn a new process, procedure, or skill is the fact that they have a fear of failure in the eyes of their peers, the other students in the classroom or sometimes their instructor. Virtual reality gives them a safe place to practice without the fear of failure. They can fail over and over again and learn from their failures. And let’s face it. We probably learn more from our failures than our accomplishments. When you’re talking about virtual reality and you’re talking about being able to simulate an event and maybe things go wrong, and there’s a consequence to that event, you learn from that and you learn in an environment where you’re safe. So… You don’t have to be afraid of failure. You can fail and learn and move on because that’s what technology is all about.
JennyQ: So, does virtual reality or VR training apply to the medical field? Absolutely!
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