Boise State University nursing students are getting hands-on training thanks to virtual reality. It's a computer simulator pilot program developed by BSU and it's been nationally recognized. Not only does this new technology give the students practice, students say it's also fun and cost effective.
Forget the joystick. Virtual reality is not just the future of gaming but the classroom as well. During the pilot program, BSU nursing students step into a virtual hospital using the highest of high-end technology.
"If you think about games, games are all about trying and failing and working hard and finally succeeding," said Anthony Ellertson, Director and Clinical Associate Professor of Boise State’s new Games, Interactive Media and Mobile program (GIMM). "Those same principles can be applied to educational needs."
Nursing professors at BSU say, right now, students get to practice certain methods only a handful of times under faculty oversight. Using this new technology they can do those delicate procedures over and over again all on their own.
"We want them to develop that muscle memory and get time to deliberately practice things before they go out and see patients," said Ann Butt, a clinical nursing professor at Boise State University.
From sterilizing their environment to completing complex medical procedures the simulation scores them on how well they complete a series of tasks. Students say because it's presented like a game, it's not just easier for them to learn,it's fun.
''Within an hour I was able to go through the procedure live seven times whereas normally in an hour I'd be able to do the procedure twice," said Boise State University senior Nathen Scobille.
Most nursing schools use medical mannequins, dummy patients that can cost up to $64,000. But this technology costs only a fraction of that price and new games to train students can be made in little as four months.
Nursing professors say they hope to expand the program after the pilot phase and the developers hope to include more features including multiplayer options.