The Department of Nursing and Health Sciences at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) recently celebrated the official opening of its four innovative Nursing Laboratories for clinical education. PolyU invested nearly $10 million to provide the training labs with virtual reality as well as state-of-the-art information technology equipment in order to simulate a true to life hospital environment. The University is proud to host the first school of nursing in the world to apply sophisticated virtual reality techniques for hands-on experience in a co-ordinated and organized way, which is not only reserved for doctors.
Each of the four laboratories has been equipped with a Silicon Graphics R1000 250 MHz Onyx2 with a storage capacity of 18 GB whereas the software is developed by Musculographics. The health education sector in Hong Kong has funded the Virtual Reality Laboratory with HK$13 million which represents 1.68 million in US dollar. Here, the Teleos Voxel Visualizer and the Operating Room View Surgery for the rendering of two-dimensional sequential medical data constitute the educational tools to teach the nursing students how to master fundamental trauma management skills.
In the second Laboratory for Advanced Care, the trainees are able to practise clinical reasoning and learn essential psychomotor skills, using the Patient Simulator. As a result, the students build up useful experience in the care for patients who suffer from critical and high-risk conditions. How to apply intravenous cannulation and therapy can be trained with the CathSim in the Acute Care Laboratory. Evaluation of the real patient's physical condition by measuring blood pressure and observing motion can be taught in the Fourth Laboratory for Health Assessment.
Teaching through virtual reality offers the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences a chance to enhance the trainee's informed judgement as well as his sensitivity for critical thinking and organization of crisis management, without having to interrupt the daily services provided by the hospital. The installation of the four Nursing Laboratories has been inspired on a single central theme, referred to as "From Virtuality to Reality - Innovation in Education". During the development phase, PolyU has permanently exchanged ideas and experience with virtual reality and simulation expert centres abroad in the specialized fields of intramuscular injection and pain management.