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Revolutionizing Health Care Education

Virtual Reality Unveils a Deeper Insight into Social Determinants of Health

The University of South Carolina College of Nursing professors, Kate Bernheisel and Jan Kubas created a Virtual Reality (VR) 360-degree video to immerse students in the life of a patient facing health challenges due to Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). The impact of this VR experience on students' knowledge, attitudes, and confidence regarding SDOH was assessed compared to a standard video.

Driving the trend: SDOH, encompassing factors like economic stability, education, health care access, environment, and social context, significantly influence community well-being. Nurses must grasp how SDOH affect patients, identifying issues like poverty and limited health care access. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the National League of Nursing (NLN) advocate integrating SDOH into nursing programs.

The possibilities: Traditional classroom settings may limit conveying SDOH's complexity, especially with restricted clinical experiences. Immersive VR learning allows students to understand SDOH impacts and brainstorm solutions. The collaboration of nursing faculty and university partners produced a 360-degree video portraying a patient with co-existing medical conditions, addressing accessibility challenges.

The other side: Post-simulation, students assessed VR effectiveness using the System Usability Scale (SUS). Findings will guide the integration of SDOH into healthcare education. VR, with its ability to enhance engagement, will be further leveraged with additional patient scenario videos in the college's curriculum.

What they're saying: "It is important for our students to understand how social determinants of health impact the lives of their patients. Because community based clinical rotations are limited, we looked for other ways to translate those experiences to students," says Bernheisel. "Virtual Reality allows students to feel a sense of presence in another environment and enables them to view a scenario through the eyes of someone else."

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