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Virtual reality is changing the way University of Kansas teaches nursing students

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Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has been testing the value of virtual reality devices in hospital settings for a number of years.
Courtesy of Cedars-Sinai
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has been testing the value of virtual reality devices in hospital settings for a number of years. Students at the University of Kansas School of Nursing will use a VR headset like this one as part of the college's "Metaversity" program.

The University of Kansas School of Nursing was one of the first institutions of higher education and the sole nursing school to launch a virtual “Metaversity” through Meta’s Immersive Learning project.

More than 80,000 qualified students are turned away from nursing schools and programs every year due to scarce faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and budget.

This has contributed to an unprecedented shortage in nursing staff nationwide, increasing workloads for current nurses and worsening patient outcomes.

Dr. Herlihy, associate professor and director of Stimulation Education Program at the University of Kansas School of Nursing, believes virtual realty can help.

"If somebody is living out on the western side of Kansas, they're not in a position maybe to move to Kansas City or to move to one of the cities where they have a nursing school. They can go to nursing school where they live," Herlihy told KCUR's Up To Date. "It also shows that where you go to nursing school, you're more likely to work, so it'd be great for us to have nurses learning across the state, and then being able to put into practice their education and training in the places where they live."

As part of the School of Nursing's new "Metaversity," through Meta's Immersive Learning project, KU nursing students use VR headsets to meet patients in virtual exam rooms and simulation spaces that look just like the actual spaces on the Kansas City and Salina campuses.

The University of Kansas and other schools across the nation hope virtual reality will lead to reduced demand for nursing faculty, more students entering the program, better engagement and knowledge retention throughout the curriculum, and expanded opportunities for ongoing professional development and skills training.

  • Dr. Kesa Herlihy, associate professor and director of the Simulation Education Program at Kansas University School of Nursing
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