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Using virtual reality to develop nurses’ resuscitation skills
Having grown up in a family of educators, it is little wonder that Anuradha D/O Ramasamy, Nurse Educator at the Nursing Development Unit of the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), has chosen to take a similar path.
With 22 years of experience in nursing, including 10 as a nurse educator, Anuradha has seen her field evolve, especially during COVID-19, when technology replaced traditional teaching methods. “When the pandemic hit, we had to adapt swiftly and leverage online tools like Zoom to continue training. While we are in an endemic phase now, the experience has left us with broader perspectives on new teaching modalities to ensure that learning can always continue,” said Anuradha.
Apart from adopting technology in her teaching, Anuradha is also part of a team — consisting of four nurses and a multimedia specialist from NHCS — that is developing an educational tool for resuscitation training using virtual reality (VR). This training programme equips nurses with critical resuscitation skills. The existing in-person training approach for nurses has certain challenges, including a constraint on the number of sessions due to the need for a physical setup, as well as the limited number of simulation scenarios for nurses to practise.
VR technology overcomes these limitations by enabling nurses to immerse themselves in customised, real-world scenarios that simulate critical situations. This not only provides them with an immersive learning experience, but also allows them to practise repeatedly without having to wait for the physical setup of a training area. The virtual environment is designed to replicate real clinical settings where nurses perform resuscitation with the same equipment and medications. Every learner will have the opportunity to interact with and utilise this equipment in a myriad of VR scenarios that are unmatched by traditional classroom training sessions.
“With VR, we can customise the scenarios to simulate highly realistic clinical situations and provide a safe learning environment for our learners. We are also able to assess their application of knowledge and skills learnt in different situations. For example, at level one, learners are required to assess and identify the early signs of patient deterioration and implement appropriate nursing interventions. Then, at level two, there are scenarios for when the patient actually crashes and requires resuscitation,” said Anuradha.
Anuradha and her team hope to create a training tool, to be used in tandem with the current hands-on life support training programmes, that not only engages nurses, but also enhances their learning. “We started the planning last year, and we’re hoping to pilot the programme in September this year,” shared Anuradha. “As we develop the game further, we hope to involve other hospitals in the future!”
Seeking the human touch in an e-learning world
When Chen Huiying decided to pursue a career in nursing, she thought she had to forego her childhood dream of becoming a teacher — until she found out about the role of a nurse educator. This position combines her interests in teaching and nursing, and is thus the perfect job for her!
In the years that followed, Huiying equipped herself with the necessary qualifications to become a clinical instructor, and thereafter attain her most recent promotion to Nurse Educator at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH).
The ward-based educator, with 10 years of nursing experience in critical care, developed a passion for technology-enhanced learning (TEL) during her own learning journey. Huiying took advantage of her tech knowledge, gleaned from various courses she had attended, to create interactive virtual classes and e-learning modules that enhance her students’ learning journey. “I try to incorporate a number of technology tools in my teaching to make lessons more interactive and improve retention. I also look for software tools that allow me to develop e-learning courses on my own, and customise them as needed, without the need to source for a vendor,” shared Huiying.
For Huiying, TEL goes beyond creating a virtual classroom — it also means gamifying the learning experience with VR and augmented reality technologies. Together with innovations such as VR headsets and gloves that provide tactile feedback, nurse educators such as Huiying are now trying to create immersive simulations that allow nurses to practise their skills in realistic and engaging environments. “Previously, simulation training was performed on mannequins, which took more man-hours as someone needs to observe while a nurse is being trained. With VR, we are able to consolidate learning, as these observations can be done virtually,” Huiying explained.
When asked about her perfect classroom, Huiying says it would be a smart classroom where students can attend either in-person or virtually, but can still meaningfully interact and share their learning and feedback through smart devices. However, she stresses that TEL does not replace real-life teaching. “Technology is meant to complement hands-on training. The human touch is always important,” she added.
To read more stories of our extraordinary nurses, download the Singapore Health Special Nursing Supplement.