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Practical nursing and virtual reality : Bow Valley College opens new high-tech lab

The application of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry is a growing trend, and Bow Valley College is embracing this evolution in its Practical Nurse Diploma program.

The application of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry is a growing trend, and Bow Valley College is embracing this evolution in its Practical Nurse Diploma program. The College has helped to design a new virtual reality platform to be integrated into its nursing courses, providing graduates valuable insight into what they will find when they see patients in the real world.

The School of Health and Wellness at Bow Valley College teamed up with Calgary-based technology company ICOM Productions. Ltd. to develop an assessment tool that practical nursing students will use in a new, state-of-the-art laboratory starting in the winter 2020 term. Traditionally, learners have done assessments on one another, and more often than not, those classmates were healthy. As a result, they were rarely exposed to abnormal findings before performing patient care. This virtual reality application will randomly match students with nine different avatars, ranging in age and ethnicity. Each virtual patient will be programmed with various conditions impacting the respiratory system. A virtual stethoscope will tip learners off with audio clues similar to what a nurse would hear in a patient experiencing from those conditions.

The VR tool will track the steps that students take in the assessment process, and will also allow them to chart their findings. The College recently piloted the tool with learners in its Adult Health Assessment course, and the reviews were positive. “Students were able to learn about and feel comfortable with the technology in about 10 to 15 minutes. It is very user-friendly,” says Kimberly Hogarth, Associate Dean in the School of Health and Wellness, Bow Valley College. She goes on to add, “ICOM was able to use innovative ideas to reduce some of the common issues with VR such as dizziness.” This technology will help students to develop the skills they will need to be work-ready, benefiting graduates of the program who will be entering into a competitive field, their employers, and most importantly, their patients. Bow Valley College’s role in developing and implementing an application like this is part of an ongoing commitment to advance curriculum using emerging artificial intelligence, as well as virtual and augmented reality technologies.

 


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