Lecturers at Sheffield Hallam University are using an augmented reality application for training of healthcare workers

Augmented reality to aid Sheffield nursing students

Nursing and midwifery students at Sheffield Hallam University will benefit from a new iPad based augmented reality (AR) tool to improve their communication skills.

Sheffield Hallam University has become the UK’s first higher-education institution to explore the benefits of augmented reality (AR) technology in the healthcare curriculum.

The institution has begun using an app that displays videos of patients played by actors that are superimposed onto training manikins. When the students look at the dummies through their iPads, they will get the taste of a real-life situation, including the patients’ possible reactions and emotions.

"The introduction of AR has been a hit with our students and staff and it has allowed us to realistically assess how our students are going to perform when they are out on the wards," said Jean Flanagan, assistant dean and head of nursing and midwifery at Sheffield Hallam University.

The new AR programme is designed to address some of the possible shortcomings in the attitude of healthcare workers when dealing with their clients. Some of those were highlighted earlier this year in the Francis Report, which criticised the lack of dignity and empathy among healthcare professionals.

Visiting the Sheffield Hallam's facilities for student nurses and midwives this week, Dr Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, director of nursing at Health Education England (HEE), the UK’s new healthcare education and training body, acknowledged the university’s effort to address the issue.

“I've had a wonderful day and I think this university is not only dovetailing our own research and development with education and training, it's genuinely interprofessionally driven, and it feels like there's a real 'hearts and minds' approach from engaging with service providers to senior leaders,” she said.

Dr Bayliss-Pratt witnessed simulations and interactive sessions at the University, including the simulated operating theatre and the new laser technology installed to compliment the virtual radiotherapy system.

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