A London-based university has invested in pioneering new technology which allows student nurses to work in a virtual hospital ward and train to spot patients with sepsis.
Middlesex University has purchased five virtual reality (VR) headsets from Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) which can recreate scenarios in a digital environment that nurses would face in real life.
The university is one of the first to roll out the technology for nursing students.
While wearing the VR headsets, students are transported to a fully interactive and immersive hospital ward where they must ask patients questions to diagnose their condition and decide on the best treatment while making sure they follow certain procedures.
The student nurses can develop confidence in tackling 20 different scenarios – which are simulated through the headsets – including patients who have difficulty breathing, diabetes, COPD and severe allergies.
One of the simulations include a patient with sepsis and the body’s physiological response to infection and clinical presentation.
According to the charity Sepsis Trust, around 52,000 deaths a year are related to sepsis and around 25,000 hospital admissions due to sepsis occur in children.
Currently, third year adult nursing and paediatric postgraduates are using the virtual wards with plans to make the learning available to midwifery students later in 2020.
After training in virtual reality hospital wards, the students can get personalised feedback and grades using a detailed analytics engine to help them evaluate their efforts with tutors.
Middlesex is one of more than 30 institutions in the UK using the OMS VR medical training platform.
Fiona Suthers, Head of the Clinical Skills Department at OMS, said: “Any simulation is only as good as the way it is debriefed so you have to use a very definitive evaluation tool led by experienced people which is embedded in the curriculum effectively.
“Students can obtain the feedback, see how well they have performed and discuss the results after their own internal reflection, so learning can emerge through the actions that are right or wrong.
“This technology is allowing students to make mistakes without repercussions. Students can feel empowered to make decisions that they wouldn’t feel comfortable making because can make mistakes safely and take more risks – which enhances their learning process.”
Dr Jack Pottle, chief Medical Officer of Oxford Medical Simulation, said: “We learn best when learning from experience and our system will allow users at Middlesex to do just that – without putting patient’s lives at risk.”