(Joplin, MO) – A substantial gift from an anonymous donor will help transform the Nursing Department at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) through innovative technology designed to enhance the student learning experience.
The funds will be used to purchase the equipment needed to create a healthcare virtual reality simulation lab.
“It will allow our students to have a safe environment to begin practicing skills and enhancing their learning before entering the clinical setting,” said Dr. Lisa Beals, chair of the Nursing Department.
“Students will be in a virtual environment where they can experience scenarios for patients in distress. With the VR goggles and hand controllers, they can work through the scenario by assessing the patient, using the equipment, dealing with conflict management and talking to patients and families.”
For instance, nursing students might find themselves at the bedside of a patient experiencing respiratory distress. The VR scenario would require them to facilitate patient care by choosing the correct equipment and going through the steps necessary to apply oxygen.
A room in the Health Sciences Center has already been identified to house the VR lab, with the goal to have everything in place for student use by the start of the Fall 2022 semester.
Beals said the application of state-of-the-art VR “gaming” technology is vast, with the U.S. military having used it for many years, and others in the private sector following suit – such as airlines using it to train their pilots. It’s also a form of technology that today’s students are very in tune with.
“This will be another tool that we have available to us,” she said. “We already have an outstanding simulation center, and we hope adding the virtual simulation room will facilitate our students learning using a layered approach. They can learn skills through a virtual scenario, and then experience them in a more tactile way using mannequins in the sim lab before going to clinicals (at area hospitals and other healthcare organizations).”
Given the interdisciplinary educational model used within the College of Health Sciences, the VR equipment will be utilized by other healthcare programs, said Beals.
Kevin Greim, Associate Vice President for Development, said the donors have a passion for the nursing profession and a strong belief in the program at MSSU.
“They were excited about how the addition of the healthcare virtual reality simulation lab will set Missouri Southern’s nursing program apart and continue to provide the healthcare industry with quality graduates within our area,” he said.
“Their support will make a tremendous difference in our nursing program. We are so thankful and grateful for this gift.”
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