Immersive virtual reality simulation center now open at UNT Health Science Center

FORT WORTH, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The first fully immersive virtual reality simulation center in Texas is now open in Fort Worth, giving healthcare students at the University of North Texas Health Science Center the chance to practice high-risk procedures in a safe environment.

Virtual reality labs use 360-degree cameras and projection technology to transport students into a variety of real-world scenarios, where they can put a skill they learn in the classroom to the test.

“And then you try it again and again,” said Karen Meadows, Director of Simulation at the UNT Health Science Center. “As many times as you need until you have it perfected. And you can do that before you touch a patient for the first time, which gives the learner a lot of confidence.”

UNT Health Science Center

The immersive rooms are part of a new 16,000 sq. ft. simulation lab at the heart of the UNTHSC campus.

There are realistic-looking exam rooms too with life-like mannequins.

“They look like a patient and they respond much like a patient,” Meadows said. “They can look at you. They can talk to you. They can blink their eyes. They even have pulses. You can watch them breathe. They become very realistic in a scenario, and you almost forget that they’re not real and just conduct yourself as if you were a real patient.”

Students can use them to practice things like placing IVs, putting in catheters, and even delivering a baby.

“What’ I’m really excited about is being more comfortable when I go into my clinical rotations and being able to confidently engage because I know I’ll be able to learn a lot more that way if I’ve gone through the motions a couple of times before,” said Quincey Hogue, who is studying osteopathic medicine at UNTHSC.

The simulation lab isn’t just for students.

UNTHSC plans to open up the fully immersive training environment to hospital residency programs, first responders, and other healthcare professionals.

“It’s how we’re able to show what we do and give back to the community that we live in and serve,” said Meadows. “Ultimately, it’s about patient safety, and making sure that those students and learners who leave here are ready and prepared so that mistakes don’t happen. The mistakes happen here in a safe space, and that makes patient safety in the public and the community even better.”

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