The results bode well for the use of VR in innovative radiography training, wrote researchers Michelle O’Connor, PhD, and Dr. Louise Rainford, both from University College, Dublin in Ireland. Their results were published on 12 November i Radiography.
“VR learning had a positive impact on first-year students’ performance in several aspects of their clinical assessment, particularly patient positioning, exposure parameter selection, and image appraisal skills,” wrote O’Connor and Rainford.
Radiography students typically undergo simulation learning in an academic laboratory setting through role-playing clinical cases and anthropomorphic phantom imaging. But no studies to date have looked at whether this training improves clinical competence, according to the authors.
O’Connor and Rainford sought to assess the potential effect of VR training on first-year radiography students’ clinical assessments. They conducted a study that included 191 participants divided into a control group of 93 with no VR education and a test group of 98 who did seven hours of practice in the immersive VR room.
Students were assessed by experienced clinical instructors as they performed an x-ray examination of the upper or lower extremity of a cooperative, ambulatory patient, rating performance on a 5-point Likert scale (with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent ).
VR-trained students outperformed those without the training on 20 of 22 assessment criteria, ranking as “very good” or “excellent” in tasks such as positioning patients for x-rays, selecting exposure factors, image evaluation for correct patient positioning, and image quality assessment.
In addition, the VR-trained students’ understanding of clinical indications, equipment setup, and explanation of the procedure was significantly better than their peers who were not trained with the VR tool, the authors noted.
Previous research has shown that an immersive VR simulation leads to high levels of satisfaction among first-year radiography students and that the training boosts their self-confidence. This study shows that VR training also translates into clinical competence among the group, according to O’Connor and Rainford.
“Simulation-based VR learning [should be] introduced in the early stages of the radiography degree to help students learn basic radiographic technique,” they concluded.
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