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Tag Archives: Virtual Reality Simulation

How Can Virtual Simulation Encourage Retention in Healthcare?

Practising clinical skills with virtual simulation
Practising clinical skills with virtual simulation

Since 2016, US hospitals have turned over an average of 90% of their workforce. This essentially means that, on average, just 10% of all staff remain working for the same hospital five years on.

Expenses are spiraling. Annual RN turnover costs US hospitals roughly $4.4m–$6.9m a year, and the loss of a single physician amounts to over $1 million. Our health systems cannot afford to lose staff. 

Ultimately, it’s our patients who suffer. With interrupted patient-provider relationships leading to adverse health outcomes and a reluctance to seek care in the future, continually replacing healthcare professionals can be devastating to patient outcomes. It’s a similar story in the UK, with rising GP turnover rates threatening patients’ quality and continuity of care.

How do we combat this? By embedding consistent, quality education into retention programs, healthcare institutions can build a system of support that empowers staff to deliver outstanding care. It’s time for virtual simulation to prove itself worthy of the task.

Improving staff competency and confidence

Research shows that financial incentives alone rarely help with staff retention. Factors such as a lack of personal growth (in both doctors and nurses), lack of self-confidence, and mismatched expectations in graduates are key contributors to turnover.

Without the chances to develop their skill set, healthcare professionals risk stagnation. This influences more than job satisfaction — it can profoundly affect a practitioner’s confidence in their abilities. Recent research found that poor self-confidence is directly related to increased turnover. It puts patients at a greater risk of harm, too.

To develop confident, competent staff, institutions must invest in learning opportunities for staff that are engaging, convenient, user-friendly, and affordable. Enter virtual reality: a solution that exceeds these requirements.

With VR simulation, users can enjoy on-demand access to immersive, experiential learning. The portable hardware is easy to configure, infinitely scalable, and costs next to nothing compared to traditional sim equipment. Even better, the experience is genuinely enjoyable!

Can virtual reality training increase competence? Absolutely! Studies show it can boost procedural confidence, facilitate technical skill development, and even speed up recognition of needed care escalation. 

VR simulation platforms like OMS offer standardized scenarios which are infinitely repeatable. A scenario’s learning objectives are consistent, meaning every repetition strengthens a user’s understanding and skills. But from a user perspective, it doesn’t feel boring to retry a scenario because dynamic storylines adapt in response to user actions, recreating how a case could unexpectedly unfold in real life. This unparalleled realism trains practitioners — and prepares graduates — to better handle the varied stresses of patient care. 

When OMS’s scenarios were put to the test, researchers found users learned more and felt significantly more confident in key elements of patient care. What’s more, 89% were still applying what they learned in their daily practice three months after the trial! The profound and lasting effects that virtual simulation (such as OMS) has on staff confidence and clinical capabilities will impact the lives of innumerable patients.

Performing an eye exam on a pediatric patient in OMS
Immersive, repeatable virtual simulation scenarios strengthen staff competence and confidence
Doctor in surgery examining little girl
Staff can apply their experience in virtual simulation to real-world clinical situations

Helping to facilitate role flexibility and advancement

A lack of career progression is a key driver in nursing turnover. MedCity News notes that hospitals “need to create a structured approach to career planning that starts with helping nurses determine what kind [of] path appeals to them”.

Healthcare business guidelines suggest continued training and advancement opportunities are excellent ways to encourage retention amongst staff. Enabling your nurses and doctors to build new skills and engage with new roles could give them the fresh perspective needed to remain in your institution.

How can VR facilitate this? Hands-on experiences in virtual simulation give users an authentic interpretation of real-life scenarios for a range of disciplines (such as obstetrics, pediatrics, and ICU), reinforcing the skills and knowledge they need to advance in their field.

Virtual simulation can also support undecided staff to identify where to transfer. Good VR sim platforms have extensive libraries with a variety of disciplines to explore. Through practicing different scenarios, staff can learn where their skills fit and what interests them most—and then managers can work with them to facilitate the change. By giving your team the chance to explore unfamiliar situations, you can help to spark their curiosity and reignite their passion for work.

Regular check-ins between managers and staff are vital to keeping the workforce satisfied. Managers can leverage virtual simulation scenarios to quickly and accurately measure staff performance, helping inform them how they can better support their team’s development. 

Because virtual reality hardware is portable and flexible, you can use it whenever and wherever is most convenient. Instead of finding time on the floor to observe staff performance, managers can schedule a time with staff and watch their skills in action, one-on-one, in an immersive virtual environment. 

Analytics give objective feedback, helping managers notice any key strengths they may have missed during observation. This way, they can also identify suitable candidates to nominate when positions become open—meaning health professionals will feel supported to pursue new opportunities, ultimately keeping them in the industry.

Looking to improve your retention strategy? Book a free demo with one of our experts.

Providing staff support and improving wellbeing

To develop effective retention programs, institutions must include training that fosters a caring, supportive environment for every member of the team.

Healthcare staff frequently cite a lack of support as a reason for burnout and turnover. Mentoring programs, designed to empower and engage staff, are linked to higher satisfaction levels and positive career development in medical staff. 

How can VR contribute to effective mentoring? Virtual simulation platforms that offer enhanced analytics give managers the capacity to identify weaknesses in practitioners and pair them with mentors who perform well in that area. Staff can feel less stressed, knowing that they have someone to turn to when they’re struggling.

Training as a team also helps shift health professionals from a competitive mindset to a more cooperative one. By using virtual reality, interprofessional scenarios can promote collaborative work with practitioners across countries in addition to disciplines. This can give staff a greater openness to different cultures and walks of life. 

A lack of support isn’t the main threat to staff retention. Bullying is one of the main reasons for turnover for doctors and nurses alike. Research attributes nurse-to-nurse bullying as a significant contributing factor to the nursing shortage. What’s more, up to 90% of medical students, foreign medical graduates, resident doctors, and female staff members experience bullying. 

Virtual reality is an ideal medium for promoting empathy among colleagues. Through immersion and presence—the feeling of “being there”—VR delivers a deeply emotive experience that allows users to connect with characters they encounter. 

Virtual simulation platforms (such as OMS) deliver patient-facing scenarios covering a wide range of cases. These can involve handling sensitive topics, including mental health and gender identity. By practicing, debriefing, and discussing these cases, virtual simulation facilitates open and honest communication amongst health professionals—helping them to better understand and handle issues they may not already be familiar with.

Finally, it’s worth considering the psychological benefits of using VR for training compared to more traditional methods. Research shows virtual reality training significantly reduces stress and anxiety. How? It allows staff to repeat scenarios as often as needed, meaning they can become completely comfortable with unfamiliar situations. Virtual simulation empowers clinicians to practice safely and as often as they like, enabling their confidence to soar. Crucially, when healthcare professionals feel more confident and prepared for the challenges they will face, they’re less likely to experience burnout.


Summary

For healthcare systems to keep their valued staff, they must provide a better level of support.

Virtual reality is the ideal medium to deliver this. VR technology is easily scalable and is available on-demand, with negligible costs relative to staff turnover.

With the right software, virtual simulation encourages collaboration with team members, builds empathy, and gives an objective insight into areas of weakness so that staff can get the help they need. 

Happy, collaborative teams help build a positive workplace—and that culture matters for more than just retention. A healthy work culture—one that puts staff retention at its core—leads to successful recruitment as well!

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Using Distance Simulation to Supplement Clinical Hours

Clinical hours replacement with VR simulation
Nursing Virtual Simulation Oxford Medical Simulation
Nursing Virtual Simulation Oxford Medical Simulation

In these uncertain times, universities and hospitals are being forced to reconsider how to train their learners and keep students on track to graduate or promote the next wave of healthcare providers. 

For some, the question of how to supplement clinical hours with simulation has been an ongoing question or debate. Now, simulation is no longer a “nice to have” learning modality for programs but a “need to have”. Furthermore, live simulation is no longer an option for most so the question becomes, how can virtual simulation be used to supplement or replace lost clinical hours?

This is a question on so many minds at the moment and while the research and data to fully support this answer is still coming, there are several existing resources and theories around simulation-based education that can be used to help answer it. 

“Simulation is no longer a ‘nice to have’ learning modality, but a ‘need to have'”

Can I Use Virtual Simulation for Clinical Hour Replacement?

First, there is the initial question of can virtual simulation be used to replace clinical hours at all? According to a statement released by Dr. Foronda (president of INACSL) and Bob Armstrong (president of SSH) the evidence and these organizations support the use of virtual simulation to replace clinical hours. This statement outlines the problem being that students may be blocked from graduating from their programs because of clinical hour requirements.

This ultimately comes down to the state policymakers but many states in the United States have already loosened the reins on these requirements to allow for flexibility. In a time where there are already shortages in medical personnel and now a pandemic on top of that, it is critical to support the training and promotion of these health care students to practicing health care professionals (doing so in a way that still provides them the best educational experience possible). 

The next question for some whose state legislation allows high-fidelity simulation to replace clinical hours is: does virtual reality or virtual simulation count as high-fidelity simulation? The answer to that, based on the SSH definition of high-fidelity simulation is clear: Yes.

According to the SSH Dictionary,  “high-fidelity refers to simulation experiences that are extremely realistic and provide a high level of interactivity and realism for the learner” which includes virtual reality. 

“Does virtual reality or virtual simulation count as high-fidelity simulation? The answer to that, based on the SSH definition of high-fidelity simulation is clear: Yes”

Clinical hours replacement with VR simulation
Clinical hours replacement with VR simulation
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How Much Time in Virtual Simulation Equals Clinical Experience?

Now that we’ve established virtual reality and virtual simulation is high-fidelity simulation and there is evidence to support its use in place of live clinical experiences during this pandemic, the primary question has been how many clinical hours can be replaced with virtual simulation. 

The answer to this depends on the source of virtual simulation, the resources provided before and after and the structure in which the simulations are implemented into the curriculum. The following is one example, using an OMS Distance nursing simulation scenario, in which one scenario could replace up to 4 hours of clinical. This same structure can also be used for the medical scenarios or interprofessional education scenarios depending on how they are implemented.

This example is based on using the INACSL Standards of Best Practice: Simulation Design and Debriefing to support prebriefing and debriefing activities before and after simulation. It is also using evidence from the 2019 study supporting 2:1 clinical to simulation hour ratio

The following example was created starting with the simulation itself and working out (adding pre-simulation and post-simulation activities). Again, this is based on personal experience as a simulation educator, what is known about the standards of best practice and specifically using OMS scenarios as an example. These guidelines can be used for any virtual simulation and then can translate back to live simulation or live VR simulation (headset or HMD) when learners are able to return to campus.

To allow learners the opportunity to practice critical thinking and efficient patient care, each scenario is 20 minutes in length. Although the question of how long to debrief an experience has been debated, the research and best practice that I’ve always been taught is to debrief for twice the length of the scenario.

In this case, 40 minutes which can include the provided self-reflection and personalized feedback. In this example, 1 virtual OMS simulation scenario could equate to 1 full hour of simulation or clinical experience; however, there is much more that can and should be built into this simulation experience to increase the value as well as length of time. 

How Do I Use Deliberate Practice in Virtual Simulation?

There are several simulation practices that can enhance the learning experience that can be incorporated into this timeline. First, deliberate practice which improves critical thinking, clinical judgment, decision making and confidence. An advantage of using virtual simulation, whether on screen or in a headset, is the ability to allow students to repeat scenarios as many times as they’d like (deliberate practice). This practice provides the personalized and individualized experience of running a scenario again and again without adding the time, space, or cost associated with running a live simulation again and again. In this example, it’s suggested to have the students run the scenario at least twice. 

Can I Use Reflective Pause / Reflection-in-action?

Another tool that can be helpful in simulation-based learning is the reflective pause or focus on reflection-in-action. In this example, students are encouraged to reflect-on-action by reviewing the feedback and completing their reflection after the initial scenario. However, then by having students immediately return to the same scenario, now with the knowledge and insight gained from the first passthrough, they are better prepared to reflect-in-action during their subsequent experiences. 

As previously mentioned, in this virtual reality simulation platform, students are prompted to do a self-reflection immediately after completing the scenario. Then, they are given personalized yet objective feedback based on their clinical decision making during the scenario. And finally, there is a place provided for students to then complete and document a proper self-debrief or self-reflection. In this example, students can take about 20 minutes to do this after the first session, then extend that time using additional activities and debriefing methods to 40 minutes after the second session. A full timeline breakdown is provided below. 

How Do I Debrief Virtual Simulation?

According to the INACSL Standards of Best Practice: Simulation Design – criterion 8, each simulation should have a debriefing or feedback method and it should be consistent. While the self-reflection and feedback provided with OMS is based on the PEARLS method, there are several methods that can be used to debrief a virtual simulation

In this example, at least 40 minutes should be used in the final debriefing session which gives educators time to allow students to review the objective feedback and then break into additional group debriefing. This group debriefing can be via video conferencing (ideal) or via a chatroom style classroom on a learning management system. 

Additionally, students can be asked to complete a post-simulation activity to extend their learning experience and physical practice. For example, students can practice documenting their assessment from their virtual experience. On-screen virtual simulation (compared to headset/HMD VR) lends itself to this nicely as students can take notes as they go and catch missed items in their subsequent runs of the scenario. Documentation can be done in a note fashion or by using an EHR platform. EHR’s can also be created using Excel or Google Forms. 

Another post-simulation activity option is to have students record themselves doing a shift-to-shift report based on the scenario. This report can then be posted to the LMS for peer review and feedback. 

Depending on the scheduling ease or conflicts, a group debrief immediately following the simulation experience may not be possible (although debriefing immediately after the experience is ideal). In this case, students can complete the self-reflection and conduct a self-debrief using the feedback, guided questions and supplemental post-simulation activities. If a group debrief is scheduled for a later time, students can then review and bring with them their feedback to this group discussion. 

To learn more about debriefing virtual simulations, see Simulation Canada‘s webinar “Virtual simulations: What are my debriefing options?

Should I Prebrief Virtual Simulation?

The last thing missing from this experience is prebriefing (INACSL Standard of Best Practice: Simulation Design, criterion 7) which does not have to look very different from prebriefing a live simulation experience. In live simulation, students may be provided with a room orientation, orientation to equipment, learning objectives, pre-simulation activities, a timeline, and the opportunity to ask questions. Using the LMS, students can be provided with learning objectives, pre-simulation activities or reading assignments, as well as a forum to ask questions and troubleshoot before their virtual simulation. Room and equipment orientation is then provided by OMS via videos to teach or remind students how to navigate the virtual scenarios and review the feedback. Educators or former students could also include a recorded shift report for students to review online prior to entering the OMS scenario. 

The biggest foreseen difference between a live simulation prebrief and virtual simulation prebrief is that the responsibility and time required to complete this falls on the student. In this example, prebriefing time will be considered 20 minutes. To help guide and track students time, part of the prebriefing experience should be providing the students with the expected timeline for this experience. An example of this posted to the LMS may look like this:

Today’s Simulation Experience timeline:

  1. Please complete the pre-simulation activities (20 minutes)
  2. Complete simulation scenario – George, SNR101US (20 minutes)
  3. Review feedback and complete “My reflective practice” (20 minutes) – Reflection must be 3+ sentences and shared to faculty
  4. Repeat simulation scenario – George, SNR101US (20 minutes)
  5. Review feedback, complete “My reflective practice” comparing first attempt to second attempt, complete additional post-simulation assignment (group debrief, documentation assignment, individual debrief using worksheet or tool, etc) (40 minutes)

“In this virtual simulation example, the 2 hour virtual simulation experience (based on a 20 minute scenario run twice with structured prebriefing before and debriefing after) would equal 4 hours of clinical time.”

Final Timeline Review

In review, we’ve now taken a single virtual reality simulation scenario and structured it’s execution to equate to 2 hours of simulation time. 

The final element of this “how much clinical time equals virtual simulation” debate is considering how much live simulation is considered clinical time. In this scenario, we are considering virtual simulation and live simulation time equivalent, although future research and data can hopefully help clear up whether that ratio is appropriate. 

Due to the increased intensity and efficiency of simulation, evidence supports using a 1:2 ratio for simulation to clinical time. What this means is that for every 1 hour of simulation, students are given 2 hours of clinical time. In this virtual simulation example, the 2 hour virtual simulation experience (based on a 20 minute scenario run twice with structured prebriefing before and debriefing after) would equal 4 hours of clinical time. 

This information, as well as a discussion and demonstration of the OMS Distance platform is also provided as a Webinar. To access the webinar or discuss this further with an Educational Specialist, please click below.

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Article by Molly Schleicher RN, MSN, CHSE – Educational Specialist at Oxford Medical Simulation

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What is VR simulation good for in 2020?

Every year, January brings the largest event in the global simulation calendar: IMSH. This year, we were excited by the ongoing and mounting interest in virtual reality simulation and improved learner outcomes.

 

Shifting perspectives 

At IMSH this year we noticed a marked shift in the awareness and understanding of VR simulation in the wider simulation community. 

Back in 2019, people were asking, “What do you mean exactly when you say ‘VR?’”. This year we were instead asked “VR has been around for a few years… what’s it good for?” and “Is it practical enough to be used meaningfully for sim?”. 

These are excellent questions. 

Here, we look at some of the ways that VR sim can be used to; create efficiencies, optimize data and encourage flexible learning – including some of the crucial concepts to consider when looking to implement a VR platform in your simulation facility.

Doing More with Less

Physical (mannikin-based) simulation involves significant overhead costs. Research has shown that faculty/admin hours, equipment, maintenance, space, and consumables contribute to an average cost of $390 to deliver just one traditional simulation session(13).

In contrast, immersive VR is instantly scalable, allowing institutions to deliver more simulation experiences to their learners at a greatly reduced cost. Because VR simulation is repeatable and can be used without faculty supervision – meaning engaging clinical experiences can be provided using fewer valuable resources.

One recent study showed “no significant differences in quantitative measures of learning or performance” in VR vs. physical sim, but demonstrated that VR sim was more affordable(4). Institutions have capitalized on using VR to deliver sim that is 5 – 50x cheaper than physical sim.

The ultimate goal of using VR for sim is to increase access to this incredibly powerful teaching method and make simulation part of everyday life (not just when learners are in the sim center).

Consideration #1

When seeking to implement VR sim, make sure you consider whether or not you are looking for a faculty-independent platform that will free up the time needed to run simulation sessions, as not all solutions offer this.

Supporting Data-Driven Simulation

Collecting information about a learner’s performance and behavior during physical sim can be time-consuming and often requires subjective input. Using standardized simulations in immersive VR allows educators to deliver more simulation experiences whilst leveraging the data-tracking and analytic power of a technology-based system. 

This push towards data-driven learning experiences makes 2020  one of the most exciting times to be working in simulation and is empowering institutions to further the use of sim in ways previously considered impossible.

The most immediate – and important – use of this data is to support the performance improvement of learners. However, these analytics can further be used to research clinical behavior, supplement assessment techniques, and aid in recruitment processes.

Sim educators have historically struggled to show the economic impact of their efforts. Now, for the first time in history, having simple access to the type of data VR-based systems offer allows instructors to justify sim implementation to key stakeholders who are increasingly asking simulationists to “measure the effectiveness of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.(5)

Consideration #2 

Platforms that offer standardized and peer-reviewed VR scenarios allow for detailed, personalized, and thorough analytics. Creating custom content in VR is undoubtedly appealing and may be useful in certain cases, however it removes the possibility of having rich, scalable feedback across cohorts. Implementing a broad range of standardized scenarios may provide you with the same variations as building your own, without compromising the levels of feedback you can give to learners.

Meeting Demands of Flexible Learning

Studies are increasingly finding that immersing a learner into a virtual world via a Head-Mounted-Display (HMD) has a greater impact on educational outcomes than screen-based learning(6). However, as simulation becomes a part of everyday life and distance-learning options are increasingly in favor, institutions need a way to deliver these simulations when VR hardware is not available.

Meeting the evolving educational needs of hospitals and universities means using a virtual reality platform that can support immersive VR sim in addition to an identical screen-based experience. 

Consideration #3 

As you consider approaching a hybrid VR-immersion/screen-based implementation, evaluate whether or not your learners will also need to use VR for group-based simulations, individual learning sessions, and multiplayer for interprofessional simulation experiences. 

We’re excited to see how our partners – and the wider sim community – will continue to advance the use of virtual reality in simulation in 2020. For more information about how VR simulation can work for you, contact us here.

References

  1. McIntosh (2006). Simulation: What does it really cost? 
  2. Iglesias-Vázquez (2007). Cost-efficiency assessment of Advanced Life Support (ALS) courses based on the comparison of advanced simulators with conventional manikins. 
  3. Pottle (2019). Virtual Reality Medical Simulation: Economic Evaluation and Return on Investment. Available on request.
  4. Haerling (2018). Cost-Utility Analysis of Virtual and Mannequin-Based Simulation. 
  5. Waxman (2019). SSH March Presidential Message. 
  6. Krokos, Plaisant, and Varshney (2019). Virtual memory palaces: immersion aids recall.

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Introducing OMS Interprofessional

Oxford Medical Simulation is excited to announce the launch of multiplayer virtual reality training with OMS Interprofessional

 

OMS Interprofessional is the multiplayer VR simulation platform from Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS). OMS Interprofessional allows multiple learners to be in the same virtual reality scenario at one time, whether they are in the same room or different countries. Learners can collaborate, discuss and make decisions as a team, just like in real life, to improve patient care

Driven by our mission to provide healthcare professionals with quality, effective clinical training at scale our multiplayer scenarios are fully immersive and interactive. Learners across disciplines can now practice managing patients as a team in real life clinical environments without risking patient safety. This regular, flexible training builds teamwork, confidence, competence and optimises transfer of learning to practice. 

How does it work? 

Using VR headsets, learners are immersed in clinical environments with dynamic, engaging patients in true-to-life clinical scenarios where they can assess and treat patients in collaboration with their colleagues. Learners can see multiple patients, interviewing,  examining, investigating, engaging with their interdisciplinary team to treat their patient – who responds as in real life. 

The focus in OMS Interprofessional is on teamwork, communication, critical thinking and clinical reasoning – allowing clinicians to apply their knowledge and learn together. After each scenario learners enter a group debriefing environment, allowing them to analyse performance as a team, discussing the case and focusing on human factors just like in traditional simulation. 

Team performance analytics are also available to learners and faculty to facilitate debriefing, progress tracking and needs identification. Learners can enter the multiplayer environment with faculty or as independent teams allowing for flexible and adaptive use cases. 

What are the benefits? 

There are multiple benefits to integrating OMS Interprofessional into healthcare training curricula. The immersive team-based scenarios allow interdisciplinary teams to work together repeatedly at any time to refine teamwork and communication skills. This flexible system lets organizations deliver simulation efficiently and effectively to improve patient care.

The portable, stand-alone OMS system is simple set-up, while intuitive, faculty-free use allows organizations to scale simulation delivery and integrate simulation into everyday practice.Moreover, multiplayer VR simulation allows learners to be trained at distance, entering scenarios from anywhere in the world regardless of their proximity to faculty and physical training locations. Faculty can be based in New York and train learners in Nairobi!

Every scenario accurately mirrors real-life,  with peer-reviewed presentations, adaptive conversation, pharmaceutical modelling and dynamic physiology to ensure clinical realism. This provides consistently quality, standardized simulation on demand. The OMS system then provides immediate, intelligent, team-based feedback on technical and non-technical skills, consolidating knowledge and facilitating debrief. Detailed metrics and analytics dashboards allow organizations to objectively measure performance and track improvements over time, whilst customizable feedback and blended learning allow seamlessly integration with curriculum requirements and protocols. 

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