The need for collaboration, conflict resolution, and teamwork is key to success in careers in nursing. At Trent, Nursing students are able to get hands-on and build practical skills throughout their undergrad in seminars, case studies, simulation labs, clinical placements, and now more than ever online course work. A new virtual reality learning opportunity available for Trent/Fleming School of Nursing (TFSON) students is gearing graduates up to be able to engage meaningfully in the workplace.
Last fall, Professor Kim English responded to a call from eCampusOntario to use virtual reality (VR) in the classroom. With her colleagues Dr. Cyndi Gilmer and Dr. Melissa Pestill, Prof. English pitched the idea to help students develop interpersonal and team building skills for their future careers in Nursing.
“The first group we rely on are our co-workers,” explains Professor Kim English, a faculty member of the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing (TFSON). “We need to start working more collaboratively.”
The process connected the Trent professors with Jeremy Brooks ‘16, a Trent University alumnus and the founder and CEO of AVROD.
It’s Virtual – Can you dig it?
Mr. Brooks’ startup began during his Masters in Anthropology at Trent, with a research focus on digital archaeology. When he couldn’t visit the Göbekli Tepe excavations in Turkey in 2017 due to the Syrian civil war, Mr. Brooks thought of a way for archaeologists to study and share data in virtual environments. In 2018, the project won the Innovation Cluster's Cubs' Lair Entrepreneurship Competition for its innovative approach to archaeological work.
AVROD (Archaeological Virtual Reality Online Database) hopes to launch soon, allowing users around the world to access archaeological digs and world heritage sites. The company currently has several hundred VR environments mapped out, such as Versailles, World War II sites, and Stonehenge.
“Largely, what we're trying to do is preserve world's history and heritage,” says Mr. Brooks.
Nursing Back to Health
AVROD’s project with the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing differs slightly from exploring archaeological excavations. It has a multiplayer component in a training simulation, but it still leverages immersive learning.
“For Nursing, we created a virtual hospital to have our users work through the space that they would experience in workplace environments,” says Mr. Brooks. “We're hoping that our platform will be used by students to learn remotely, and study and work in other virtual environments.”
Nursing programs are familiar with simulation training, usually using patient actors or life-like mannequins. Recently, Canadian and American nursing schools have begun to offer ‘virtual sims’, such as video with prompts the students must answer.
Creating Career-Ready Scenarios
Prof. English, who has been teaching in TFSON for 18 years discusses incivility during her third-year class called “Leadership and Advocacy”. She and her colleagues worked with Mr. Brooks to develop three different scenarios. The first portrays constructive criticism, to differentiate between the opportunity for growth and actual impoliteness.
One scenario has a faculty member perpetrating a microaggression in the classroom and another simulates an instructor losing their temper with a student. These kinds of outbursts prompt the students and instructors to ask afterwards, “what can we do in a situation like this?”
TFSON will offer any-time remote learning this fall with potential on-campus access to the campus VR equipment in the Data Visualization Lab at the Trent University Library & Archives. Trent’s approach to multi-access learning will allow students on campus in small groups to test out the innovative VR learning experience.
Discussing incivility among nurses is a good start but it's not quite the same as experiencing it, says Prof. English. The VR can present the opportunity to experience it, to understand how to actually manage the situation, and to help future healthcare workers thrive.