I don’t think anyone can really be prepared for their first use of a VR headset. Technology has become such a familiar part of our lives that I think its brilliance can sometimes escape us, but virtual reality has given people a taste of something they’ve never experienced before. Virtual reality is not a technology that simply supplements our lives, it is a technology that brings our lives into an entirely new reality.
It’s no wonder that the impact of virtual reality has been tremendous. You can be transported to any corner of the world and feel like you’re really there. You can buy movie tickets and watch movie in VR cinema with your friends. And of course, you can play a wide variety of video games that make you feel like you’re part of the action.
So what does this have to do with health care? While VR apps don’t seem to have much use in the healthcare industry, VR has proven to be an invaluable tool in treatment and care. Medical teams have used virtual reality to plan and perform complex surgeries, such as a neurosurgical procedure, in advance. It has been used as a pain management tactic to distract patients from frightening or painful procedures, especially in cases where sedation and anesthesia cannot be administered. It has also helped professionals working in addiction recovery to be more creative in the strategies and techniques they use to help their patients overcome their addictions. But another remarkable way to apply virtual reality in the healthcare industry is as a training tool.
Using virtual reality, facilities are able to create simulations for a number of different scenarios that employees can experience first-person. Here’s how it’s revolutionizing healthcare training.
A deeply immersive and interactive education
Healthcare professionals know that healthcare is a high-stakes industry, so they are grateful for all the educational stages they go through to adequately prepare for their future roles. Extensive classroom training, on-the-job training, and mentorship from seasoned medical professionals are all important, but being on your own for the first time can be daunting.
Virtual reality gives new doctors, nurses and medical staff the ability to immerse themselves in real life scenarios as if they were in charge of them. They can see the immediate consequences of their actions and learn from their correct or incorrect behaviors. They can be exposed to dangerous or life-threatening situations and practice solving each scenario without putting themselves or their patients in real danger.
Institutions are constantly researching and developing new ways to improve their training processes, and what better way to do that than by immersing new staff members in situations they might encounter on the job? This is how facilities can build self-awareness in their employees while creating more confident and competent teams. Studies have shown that experiential learning also leads to greater compassion for patients. This is much more difficult to accomplish with more traditional training methods where employees cannot get regular, hands-on practice.
Virtual reality-based training has been proven to improve performance across the healthcare industry while reducing the risk of fatal errors. Nothing prepares someone more effectively for the real thing than a program designed to replicate real-world experiences.
Training on new or updated equipment
In order to continue to provide the best patient care, medical equipment must be constantly updated or replaced with new devices. With any new feature, there’s always a learning curve — except in healthcare, those learning curves can have disastrous consequences.
Training new employees on new or updated equipment can be extremely time consuming, and facilitating the time needed to introduce the equipment to staff members can be a headache. Virtual reality not only makes equipment training faster and more accessible, but it also gives everyone the opportunity to practice using the equipment, tools and technology as much as necessary in order to feel more comfortable before using it for the first time.
Better staff retention
Since the start of the pandemic, the healthcare sector has seen an increase in staff turnover in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other medical practices. As leaders find ways to entice their employees to stay, it appears that some of the common incentives, like higher salaries and bonuses, are no longer enough to combat record levels of burnout and fatigue.
In addition to their well-being, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are also choosing to quit their jobs due to a lack of personal growth and low self-confidence, which puts patients at risk. at greater risk of harm. Facilities should invest in the ongoing education and training of their teams, which will help staff members develop greater confidence and competence. Virtual reality goes beyond the traditional training methods that facilities often use, and this new, immersive and experiential way to train staff members is essential for their competence and satisfaction. VR simulators have been shown to build procedural confidence and develop technical skills in the field. Investing in your employees means investing in cutting-edge technology that will enable them to perform better in their role.
Virtual reality helps build confident and collaborative teams that then create a positive work environment for other staff and patients. Using tools like virtual reality to train current and future generations of healthcare workers is another way leaders are committing to improving the industry as a whole.
Photo: Studio Moyo, Getty Images
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