This research project focuses on developing an innovative virtual pediatric patient system, which will be utilized to enhance patient safety in the education of baccalaureate nursing students. Currently, there are few opportunities in which nursing students may have realistic patient interaction without human patients. Experiential learning, such as simulation, provides them with opportunities to develop skills essential to clinical practice. The current and future nursing shortage requires instructional pedagogies that will assist in the clinical instruction of the next generation of nurses. Such simulation experiences will help future nurses develop self- efficacy and critical thinking skills so they may provide the safest patient care possible. The objective of the proposed research is to use a combination of emerging computing and virtual reality technologies to build and test a virtual patient system.
The specific aims of the research are: 1) design, model, and program virtual patients (a mother and child), 2) assess the feasibility and functionality of the virtual patient system, and 3) assess the usability of the virtual patient system to promote the development of patient interviewing skills in baccalaureate nursing students. The objective of the proposed research supports the mission of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The proposed virtual pediatric patient system is an interdisciplinary approach to research that has the potential to improve nurse interviewing and clinical decision making skills, which will ultimately lead to enhanced patient safety. This innovative research will yield a virtual pediatric patient system that 1) combines the unique knowledge and experience of nursing and technology experts to create a pediatric patient simulation, 2) provides opportunities for nursing students to develop pediatric patient interviewing skills, resulting in students being well prepared to provide safe patient care, and 3) is an alternative to traditional clinical experience as it provides a consistent experience for all students with immediate feedback and repetitive practice. This system is expected to have a positive impact in that such a system will provide new methods for improving patient safety, thus advancing the ability to improve and protect human health.
The virtual patient system uses a combination of emerging computing and virtual reality technologies to build and evaluate a virtual patient system (including a child and mother). The system is designed to enhance clinical nursing education, by allowing nursing students to have face-to-face interactions with a virtual child and mother in an ambulatory care setting. The virtual patient system has the potential to improve nurse interviewing and clinical decision making skills, which will ultimately enhance patient safety.