CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ohio University Chillicothe nursing students are expanding their training with a new virtual reality (VR) platform, Embodied Labs, thanks to recent funding from the Office of Undergraduate Experiential Learning. Associate Professor of Nursing Camille Leadingham incorporates VR simulations depicting conditions like hearing and vision loss, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, transgender health, and LGBT experiences. According to Leadingham, VR engages students authentically, providing an immersive experience that deepens their understanding of older adults and diverse healthcare needs.
“VR engages students in their learning process. It offers an authentic, immersive experience that enhances their understanding of older adults navigating the aging process,” Leadingham said.
“You don’t realize how much someone has lost until you experience it yourself. The amount of empathy you can have for others can be limited if you’ve never had a similar experience,” Pohlman remarked. Her virtual experience extended to a doctor’s appointment, where she witnessed the significance of accommodating a patient’s hearing impairment.
Fellow junior nursing student Jared Kaiser highlighted how the VR modules not only addressed visual and auditory challenges but also cognition issues. He emphasized the transformative nature of the experience, putting students in someone else’s shoes to better care for patients in clinical settings.
“It opens your eyes,” Kaiser said. “Not everybody can hear like you, not everybody can see like you. It puts you in someone else’s shoes to experience what they’re experiencing.”
Leadingham stressed that VR promotes cultural competence, preparing students to address diverse healthcare needs. The integration of VR modules into the curriculum ensures students apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations, enhancing their understanding of conditions not encountered in traditional clinical settings.
Research supporting the efficacy of VR simulations in nursing education emphasizes Ohio University Chillicothe’s innovative strides. Nursing students Pohlman and Kaiser exemplify the transformative potential of VR as a pedagogical tool, fostering empathy and respect. Both anticipate exploring additional VR scenarios, reflecting the university’s commitment to innovative approaches in preparing students for the complex healthcare needs of future patients.
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