Augmented Reality provides a new opportunity for education through simulation.

The simulation of real clinical practice situations plays an important role in educating each generation of nurses. High-fidelity digitally enhanced manikins are recognised as a safe and effective way to teach health students, by exposing them to learning experiences. Now the arrival of Augmented Reality (AR) creates another opportunity for simulation in healthcare education.

The Otago Polytechnic School of Nursing was one of six educational institutions internationally to trial Pearson's HoloPatient app using the HoloLens technology from Microsoft. Professor Liz Ditzel and Emma Collins designed a research project that would evaluate first-year nursing students' experiences of using HoloPatient. Wearing the AR headsets, the students performed a simulated nursing assessment of Jerry, a holographic patient. Students "see" Jerry, hear his breathing, and walk around him. Jerry displays various symptoms and behaviours in three visual clips. The students can access information, for example his blood pressure, by "air-clicking" a holographic keyboard, to help them assess Jerry's condition and plan actions.

When asked if they felt their learning experience was enahnced using the HoloLens, student feedback included:

  • “A highly adaptable tool that gives cues not easily replicated in practice labs, giving a more realistic assessment”
  • “Allowed me to apply skills I had learnt and put them into practice – I learn by doing”
  • "Being able to see physical signs/symptoms is far more beneficial than explaining them”

The research showed that the AR technology engaged the students and enabled them to develop skills and confidence in identifying cues as part of patient assessment. The students demonstrated they were able to process information, identify problems and plan goals for patient care. 

October 2019