Reimagining Nursing

Reimagining Nursing Virtual Reality Hub

New York State, as with most of the country, is struggling with a shortage of qualified Nursing practitioners. This shortage is driven by a number of issues, with one important element being the lack of clinical placement sites where students can learn to identify, assess, and treat medical issues on genuine patients.

Clinical experiences are an important part of nursing education, providing valuable opportunities for skill development. As healthcare needs expand, and institutions enroll more students in nursing programs, clinical placement rotations diminish, often with competition for limited placements, particularly with the advent of the coronavirus. Thus, additional opportunities for students to practice essential skills must be created.

The Reimagining Nursing Virtual Reality Hub program addresses this need by augmenting experiential learning with virtual reality technologies and nursing education applications to not only afford students more practice in controlled nursing simulation scenarios but also expand the types of scenarios beyond what they might encounter in a two-year nursing program clinical rotation. In addition, this program will enable students to leverage more experience from clinical hours, gain further opportunities to practice and learn from mistakes, and develop competency confidence.

The results are students who enter clinical rotations and other practices with greater trust in their abilities and experience so that they are less distracted by performing interventions and can engage with patients in therapeutic communication.

  • Existing Resources

    As part of a 2-million dollar renovation of its nursing facilities, Maria took a step to address this training bottleneck years ago by incorporating patient simulation manikins (life-size dolls with life-like organs and systems, and limited movements) in the training program. These manikins allow students to practice identifying and treating many common injuries, illnesses and other conditions but have limitations beyond assisting with fairly basic clinical conditions. While College has several suites of manikins, including 14 basic simulators with limited motion range and visual/tactical features and four very automated and manipulatable 

    Nursing Students in Nursing Simulation Lab

    SimMan models which, when operated from a remote terminal, can mimic a number of medical situations and reactions to treatment. 

    Though we are proud of our clinical labs, we also know that they have limitations in the types of situations and remedies that they can simulate.

    In addition to the physical resources, Maria has a number of well-respected faculty and staff who will work on this project. This includes (space limits the complete list):

    • Jessica Napoli, DNP  DNP, FNP-BC, CNEcl, is responsible for all students’ clinical education plans, teaching in the lab, clinical setting and classroom, and coordinates all nursing clinical placements;
    • Gabrielle Ryan, BSN, RN, CCTN (MS anticipated 2021), has worked as a preceptor for new RNs and a skills and simulation lab instructor at Maria for the past four years;
    • Jason Coley, PhD, Assistant Director of the Maria College Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, is the technical lead on the project.
      While included in this grant application narrative, we are not requesting funds for personnel costs.
  • Proposal for use of federal funds

    The purpose of this program is to help prepare our student nurses for practice through immersive experiential learning opportunities that build confidence in clinical competencies, improve clinical skills, and foster a more patient-centric approach to patient care.
    Our strategy is to introduce Artificial Intelligence Nursing to our students to give them a platform for success in learning. The experience will allow our students to occupy a virtual world with others as coaches and co-learners to direct attention and provide targeted feedback. Virtual reality applications serve as individualized interactive references and learning aids for healthcare students. For example, a single application can house thousands of three-dimensional anatomical models that animate and encourage interactivity. Collaborated learning spaces in virtual reality also increase student engagement and motivation to learn.

    Virtual reality learning platforms allow customized virtual spaces for students to help augment learning. Virtual reality is unique among other learning technologies as it affords the highest levels of immersion and presence—the user has a sense of being “inside” a three-dimensional computer-generated environment with visual and physical cues —which can greatly enhance student engagement and learning by transferring skills developed from one situated learning experience to another.

    In addition to learning through analog means to build mental perceptions, virtual reality affords greater embodied experiences that help develop empathy such as students experiencing medical treatment from the situational perspectives of patients. This will encourage hospitals and other clinical sites to open up additional on-site training opportunities for students.

  • Importance to New York

    As noted above, New York State has a shortage of nursing practitioners, due partly to the clinical training bottleneck. Most New York hospitals, while requiring trained nurses, do not have adequate resources to train students in actual hospital sites, limiting the number of students who can learn. Until students can be presented to clinical locations with the education and experiences to provide assistance, access to sites will continue to be a bottleneck in the graduation of nurse practitioners.

    Confident, practice-ready nurse graduates require less preceptor time, which is important in gaining clinical hours on hospital floors. The Reimagining Nursing Virtual Reality Hub program will provide ‘ready-to-perform’ students for practices by bringing together nurse education and technology-enabled nursing practice guided by artificial intelligence. This Virtual reality environment, as detailed below, will assist learning performance and automate assessment by identifying areas of improvement for each student in each area of service.

    Once the students have completed their clinical training and all their coursework, they will be able to graduate with an employable professional degree, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (Maria Students have the highest pass rates in the Capital District), apply for any number of well-paying jobs (90% of Maria students are working in their field or pursuing a higher degree 6 months after graduation), and provide the best quality care to New York State families and children.

  • Benefit to Local Community

    Beyond those benefits identified above for the State, the Capital District will increase the number and quality of nursing professionals available to practice and provide care for our neighbors. Although Maria is a small college, our contribution to New York State is significant. The Center for Governmental Research estimates Maria’s grand total economic impact on the local community is $28 million annually.

    Our faculty, staff, and over 800 students reside in the Capital Region and contribute to their community through their volunteer services, experiential learning, internships and through various forms of civic engagement. Over 8,500 strong, our alumni spend each and every day building a close and caring relationship, serving within their community.

    As an opportunity-education college, Maria often recruits students from marginalized/underrepresented populations: They may be the first generation in their family to attend college, or they may have struggled academically at a previous college. The program gives Maria students access to state-of-the-art technology that helps foster a culture of technological literacy, serving to help shrink the growing digital divide between those who can use computers and Internet-connected devices for civic participation from those who may be vulnerable to misinformation due to a lack of experience with technology. Connecting these students with virtual reality technologies and nursing simulations helps develop both nursing and computer competency, which they bring back to benefit their communities.

  • Partners
    1. St. Peters Health Partners and St. Peter’s Hospital (315 S. Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208)
    2. Albany Medical Center Hospital (43 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208)
    3. Siena College (515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211)