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Boise State Nursing and Gaming Professionals Win National Education Award

Boise State faculty Anthony Ellertson, director and clinical associate professor of the Games, Interactive Media and Mobile program, and Ann Butt, clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing, received the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) Outstanding Work Award for their Virtual Reality Nursing Simulation for Patient Safety in Nov. during the WCET annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.

The wearable technology allows nursing students to practice psychomotor nursing skills on virtual patients with significant cost savings compared to more standard training. The system uses Oculus Rift virtual reality headgear and a custom haptic system (manipulation through touch), similar to popular video game technology, to put nursing students in the virtual patient’s room in order to practice common nursing procedures. The combination of Oculus Rift and this haptic system enables a student to see and interact with (touch, hold or grip) objects in the virtual environment, allowing for complex simulations (like catheter insertion) to realize significant cost savings compared to the same training on a simulation manikin.

“It used to be we had more time and opportunity for students to learn skills at the bedside, but now patients have shorter hospital stays and there are fewer clinical opportunities,” said Butt. “Simulation is a great enhancement to in-hospital clinical training.”

Butt is interested in deliberate practice and simulation and she incorporated the pilot of this technology into her dissertation. Deliberate practice theory recognizes that the more you practice a task consciously with a goal in mind and receive immediate feedback on performance, the better you’ll be at that particular skill. Boise State nursing courses incorporate deliberate, repetitive practice into most of their clinical courses, but students must rely on faculty for feedback on the quality of their practice of particular skills. The Oculus Rift and haptic system allows students to receive immediate feedback from the game in the form of points.

“The students enjoyed using the system, which also utilizes game-based learning,” said Butt. “They spent significantly more time-on-task than students that practiced traditionally. The students who participated in the pilot study last spring are expressing interest in using the game again. We’re excited to continue to develop this system for use by our nursing students. When you get into the system and step into this virtual world, you realize the potential for learning is enormous.”