Protecting and preparing nurses through virtual COVID-19 training.
Updated March 31, 2023
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for nurses and other healthcare providers in Canada has been so critical that hospitals and healthcare facilities have had to re-train staff for new roles and invite retired healthcare professionals to return to work.
Due to current physical distancing and infection-prevention measures, there are a number of challenges associated with providing traditional training. Reassigned and returning workers require access to healthcare programs to upgrade their skills, including infection control education. As COVID-19 patients dominate caseloads, healthcare professionals are also experiencing a decrease in non-virus related cases, driving a drop in applied skills, clinical reasoning and procedural memory.
How We Are Solving It
To address these challenges, the Virtual Pulse project is building a digital training platform with an extended reality training tool, including web and virtual reality modules. The project team is led by TTA Technology Training Associates and brings together the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Unity Technologies, Animism Studios, CAE Healthcare and a number of B.C. health authorities.
Virtual Pulse will start with training modules specific to COVID-19, helping to train current nurses. It will then develop modules to upskill current and aspiring emergency and critical care nurses. Modules will also be created to address other key nursing competencies, followed by the launch of extended reality components.
Virtual Pulse’s simulations will recreate real-life clinical situations that will help develop clinical reasoning abilities required to meet patients’ health needs. The simulation teaches a health professional how to intervene in a variety of scenarios, and helps reduce errors, and improve patient safety and delivery of quality care.
Next steps will be adapting appropriate skills, such as infection control, for use in training homecare workers and nurses, and even essential workers in other areas such as meat packing and grocery stores.
This project built a digital training platform that brings together an extended reality (XR) training tool using the web and virtual reality modules to train aspiring nurses, replacing those who were retiring or burned out from strains of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Virtual Pulse platform simulations recreated real-life clinical situations to develop clinical reasoning abilities, which are a combination of cognitive, psychomotor and affective skills required to meet patients’ health needs. 25 virtual simulation modules and 2 virtual reality experiences have been developed and over 2,000 frontline healthcare providers in Canada have enrolled in the COVID-19 modules. A simulation module has also been trialed to nurses in India through the Canada-India Network Society.
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