EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – What it used to be a dream a quarter-century ago, it is now a reality. Nursing schools practice treating patients using virtual reality technology.

This spring, Hunt School of Nursing students have begun training using Oculus headsets that put them in a VR hospital room with a patient.

During a VR training, nothing physical is present but the virtual patient can talk, show emotion, and move as per the students’ instructions. Before these exercises would involve hyper-realistic manikins that simulate breathing and a heartbeat, while remaining motionless.

“Having a regular manikin simulation has been great but seeing a patient’s status and reaction changing before you, you can’t do that without virtual reality,” said nursing instructor Meghan LaMont, M.S.N., R.N

Virtual reality is just one way TECHS provides students with hands-on training. Students practice diagnosis and treatment of patients with a wide range of simulation equipment, including lifelike medical manikins, role-playing “standardized patients,” and other methods and equipment designed to simulate real-world medical scenarios.

The Oculus system allows instructors to observe the student’s point of view through a computer monitor. Hand-held controllers also provide feedback to the student, such as a vibration while checking a patient’s pulse. Nursing students have responded to the course with enthusiasm.

The technology is another way to provide simulated clinical exposure to first-year students, as well as pre-medical or high school students interested in medical or nursing school.

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