UNT Health Science Center opens regional simulation center with ‘fully immersive’ virtual reality rooms » Dallas Innovates

Simulation is a key component of healthcare training. Today, the UNT Health Sciences Center in Fort Worth has taken it to a whole new level by opening the first virtual reality “simulation center” in Texas.

A ribbon cutting was held Thursday for UNT HSC’s new $6.75 million Regional Simulation Center. This Features “immersive simulation spaces” powered by 360-degree virtual reality projections; 14 realistic examination rooms; VR headset learning experiences; a suite of adaptable procedural skills; a suite of daily living activities designed to resemble the interior of a house; and various team and learning rooms.

“The HSC Regional Simulation Center will not only improve healthcare outcomes and patient safety, but this state-of-the-art facility will also serve as a beacon for prospective medical students, technology companies and other contractors,” Fort Worth City said. Council representative Leonard Firestone in a statement. “The center will let business owners know that Fort Worth embraces new ideas, emerging technologies and is a leader in life science entrepreneurship. The economic impact of this center could be a game-changer for our city as HSC strengthens its position as a leading healthcare institute.

‘Advanced technology’

UNT HSC students and staff practice on a manikin at the new regional simulation center. [Photo: HSC]

“The opening of the new HSC Regional Simulation Center is truly exciting as it is the first immersive virtual reality simulation center in the state of Texas,” said UNT System Chancellor and HSC President, the Dr. Michael R. Williams, in a statement. “Advanced technology will allow our students and caregivers to practice and learn new skills in the most realistic environments. This will ultimately benefit patients and increase patient safety.

The immersive simulation space can immerse students and veteran healthcare workers in realistic environments, such as a rugged wooded roadside where a patient is to be treated in the wild (as seen in the top photo).

The center is located in a renovated space on the first floor of the Gibson D. Lewis Library at 955 Montgomery St. in Fort Worth. It is open for training for hospital residency programs, emergency medical service providers, hospital staff, nursing home staff, clinical teams, first responders and more, according to UNT HSC.

The “flexibility” to practice… and practice again

Rendering of an immersive AI-powered simulation space in the UNT HSC Regional Simulation Center. [Video still: HSC]

Karen Meadows, MSN, AI, the program director, said in March that one of the great benefits of the lab will be its accessibility to students.

“No student should leave our university and say, ‘I haven’t had the opportunity to be fully prepared for my future experience,'” Meadows said in a statement. “To me, that’s really why the simulation center is here. Some learners pass in two stages and they have understood it. Others may need eight, and that learner needs the opportunity to come in and train. The flexibility that this center offers will provide that.

Virtual reality helps learners in many ways

UNT HSC Regional Simulation Center Practice Areas. [Rendering: HSC]

According to UNT HSC, the medical research community believes that virtual reality training helps learners retain information better, make correct clinical decisions, and make those decisions faster than students who only learn through lectures and 2D simulations. HSC’s newly opened center joins “a small but growing number of training centers across the country” that are integrating virtual reality into their healthcare curriculum, according to HSC.

In March, Dr. Bharti Chaudhari, Director of Simulation for Emergency Medicine at John Peter Smith Hospitalcalled HSC’s new center a “dream come true” for its program.

“You couldn’t ask for better training,” Chaudhari said in a statement. “It’s as real as it gets but as deliberate and critical as you need it to be. You’re not just teaching rote memorization; you’re teaching concepts, things that teach students how to think critically. When learners leave this region, they will become good doctors wherever they go.

Fort Worth Report has a photo gallery of the lab opening day reveal here.

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