Category Archives: VR Nursing Simulation

Changing the Face of Education: Virtual Reality in Curriculum

virtual patient in outpatient room
virtual patient in outpatient room

In healthcare education, students often must retain a hefty amount of information, and on top of that, they must build psychomotor skills they can take with them into clinical practice. 

Simulation is a well-known method to begin bridging the gap between knowledge and practice, and while it certainly has a place in healthcare curricula, it also has its limitations. 

Namely, physical simulation is resource-intensive. It requires significant planning, coordination, and it requires a lot from the faculty running the simulation, as well. There’s also the matter of finding an accommodating space and dedicating the time to execute an effective and smooth simulation. 

To achieve similar outcomes at a reduced cost, virtual simulation can be a valuable addition to the teaching modalities used to hone and develop skills like clinical reasoning and decision making. 

As is true of any progression within a curriculum, thoughtful and strategic placement of virtual reality can result in the best outcomes for both faculty and students. 

Integrating VR into a Curriculum

While counterintuitive, it may be best to start at the end – in other words, it’s important to begin with a firm understanding of the expected learning outcomes to determine where VR can best suit learners’ needs. 

Scenarios should be matched to the learner level and, ideally, align closely with the didactic content of the course.

In-headset using VR

Authors at Johns Hopkins University did just that, and they created a roadmap with 4 areas of focus to define the optimal way to add virtual reality into a curriculum. 


The journey begins with an orientation process which should serve to familiarize both learners and educators with the platform they’ll be using. 

Faculty can get an understanding of the scenarios and the data provided by the platform to give them all the tools necessary to leverage the VR experience. 

Learners, in turn, get a chance to navigate the platform, and they’ll get the opportunity to navigate the scenario, as well. This way, learners can place their focus on the task at hand when in the scenario rather than on troubleshooting or setup. 


Next, a pre-brief can be used to get students in the right mindset before entering VR. In the case of JHU, they took this time to discuss concepts like psychological safety and confidentiality prior to beginning the virtual simulation. 

Here, important concepts can give learners the background information or context necessary to optimize the experience. This can include anything from the rationale for virtual reality to reading materials to relevant information regarding the upcoming case.

Virtual patient with clamminess

The Scenario

Once the pre-brief has been completed, learners can enter the virtual simulation and complete the case. It’s entirely up to the academic team to determine the length of time learners can access these scenarios or the benchmark score they must achieve in order to demonstrate meeting the learning objectives. 

OMS scenarios take approximately 20 minutes to complete, and faculty can limit the amount of attempts learners may take; although, an ability to repeat as much as needed may be a benefit to more deliberate practice. 

These types of decisions depend largely on the learning objectives and goals created by the instructors, which is another reason why beginning with predetermined goals can be so beneficial in choosing the right course of action in implementing virtual simulation. 

Once learners complete the scenario, one of the most important components of simulation-based learning is next – the debrief. 


Debriefing is an opportunity to provide learners with feedback on their performance, which can make a big impact in overall learning. Traditionally, debriefing takes the form of synchronous, small group-based discussions, led by an experienced facilitator. 

With virtual reality, this can still be the case. Additionally, scenarios may come with automated feedback, providing learners a chance to self-debrief before entering into a group discussion. Feedback with OMS is based on best practices and provides rationale to learners on concepts relevant to the case and appropriate actions to optimize patient care. 

It’s important to take into consideration the perception of VR that learners have, so taking their feedback can help make decisions around the implementation of VR, as well. 

Educators must also have their feedback considered, as they will be the people largely putting the time and effort into the initial curriculum mapping that takes place. 

Adapting VR to your Curriculum

Armed with your learning objectives, you’re likely to find a scenario that aligns with your needs in the OMS library of over 240+ scenarios. 

However, if you’re not able to find what you need or if you’d like to make even the slightest of adjustments to an existing scenario, you can take the creation of the simulation into your own hands.

OMS Create dashboard

Maybe you’d like a vital sign to read differently or you need a virtual patient to have a different response – this can all be done via the no-code authoring platform, OMS Create, giving you the chance to make a VR experience that gives your learners exactly what they need. 

Building, changing, and progressing a curriculum is no easy task, and it requires a lot of effort and planning to make it happen, but with the right tools and goals in mind, you can seamlessly add virtual reality into your curriculum to bring an innovative and informative teaching modality to your learners. 

Interested in trying VR sim? Arrange a free demo with us today.

Supporting Nursing Education at the University of New England

Virtual Reality (VR) simulation allows nursing students at the University of New England to practice caring for acutely ill virtual patients within an immersive, realistic setting.

The University of New England (UNE) is working with Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) to deliver state-of-the-art virtual reality software to transform nursing education. 

The immersive virtual reality platform supports nursing students at the UNE School of Nursing and Population Health in providing simulated patient care to advance clinical decision making and communication skills with other health care providers. This training allows nursing students to practice in true-to-life virtual scenarios without posing risk or harm to patients and families.

The technology is developed by Oxford Medical Simulation, an award-winning VR simulation company – based in Boston and London – and allows nursing student to practice treating acutely ill patients in a simulated, virtual environment. This optimizes skill development including clinical reasoning, decision making and patient/team communication, resulting in increased competence and confidence in managing complex care. 

UNE’s Interprofessional Simulation and Innovation Center (ISIC) is committed to providing state of the art experiential learning opportunities to health professional students,” said Director of Clinical Simulation Dawne-Marie Dunbar, MSN/Ed., RN, CNE, CHSE. “With the OMS VR platform, we will be able to increase simulation capabilities that offer students access to complex patient care scenarios while optimizing time, space, and resources.” 

This innovative technology allows UNE ISIC to engage students in expanded simulation-based experiences. Simulation refers to the use of simulated patients to practice delivery of acute patient care and is widely regarded as the most effective way of training health care professionals. Simulation is traditionally implemented with actors and/or manikins staged within a mock, realistic setting. However, high-fidelity simulation requires significant time, space, and budget. As a result students may only receive two-to-three simulation experiences per year. With virtual reality simulation, students are now able to practice simulated scenarios as often as needed.

“We’re delighted to be working with the University of New England to take nurse training to new heights. We developed OMS because we believe that training healthcare professionals in a flexible, zero-risk environment will transform patient care around the world. We all learn best from experience and the OMS system allows users at UNE to do just that – without putting patient’s lives at risk,” said Jack Pottle, MD, Chief Medical Officer of OMS.

The OMS system provides students access to libraries of nursing scenarios, supporting practice of care provision and clinical decision-making across a wide range of conditions such as sepsis, pneumonia, heart failure, and meningitis. Students enter the interactive virtual scenario using a VR headset and are greeted by a virtual mentor and their patient/family. Learner interaction with the patient mimics real-life engagement with a patient. Through this pedagogy (or experience), learners can examine the patient, ask questions, initiate treatment, and provide support/reassurance as they would in actual clinical practice. Every action the student takes is recorded and compared to best practice. Once the scenario is complete, the platform produces a comprehensive data analytics report providing the student with detailed feedback. This serves as a debriefing tool to guide reflection as to what went well and what they need to improve on.