New changes in health service delivery are having a significant impact on the structure of health professional education. Today it is recognized that medical knowledge doubles every 6-8 years, with new medical procedures arising every day.
While the half-life of medical information is so short, the average physician exercises 30 years and the average nurse exercises 40 years.
Therefore, continuing education represents a major challenge that needs to be addressed. Recent advances in educational technology offer an increasing number of innovative learning tools. Among them, Virtual Reality represents a promising area with high potential for improving the training of health professionals.
Advantages of learning and training with VR
Virtual reality training can provide a rich, interactive and attractive educational context, thus supporting experiential learning through practice; in fact, it can contribute to increasing learners’ interest and motivation and to effectively supporting the acquisition and transfer of skills, as the learning process can be established within an experimental framework.
The current applications of virtual health care training differ greatly in terms of their technological/multimedia sophistication and the types of skills trained, which vary, for example, from tele-surgical applications to interactive simulations of the human body and brain, and to virtual worlds for training in emergency situations.
Other interesting applications are the development of immersive 3D environments for the training of psychiatrists and psychologists in the treatment of mental disorders.
The main objective of this article is to justify the main benefits of the use of virtual reality in health education and training.
We also want to highlight the significant research and projects carried out in this field, followed by a debate on key issues relating to current limitations and future development orientations.
Why is Virtual Reality a great opportunity for Health Education?
If you are responsible for the skills and performance of your organization’s healthcare staff, you probably don’t need to tell them how important it is and the impact it can have on patients’ lives, on the quality and efficiency of your service, and on the business risks of unqualified staff.
The practice of health care requires acquiring many skills, habits, knowledge, and a certain mentality and discipline. Much effort and resources are directed toward this goal in health care organizations. However, having a real impact on the behavior of your employees is not always an easy task. In addition, over time, the effect of the training and awareness campaigns you conduct is likely to disappear.
Establishing a good knowledge base through alternative techniques such as training in VR or AR, Augmented Reality, is a totally differential point. No doubt the concepts are better retained, and that is why it is hoped that they will be put into practice better and for longer afterwards in the professional life of the doctor or nurse.