The findings bode well for the use of VR in training novice radiographers, wrote researchers Michelle O’Connor, PhD, and Dr. Louise Rainford, both of University College Dublin in Ireland. Their findings were published November 12 in 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 review skills,” O’Connor and Rainford wrote.
Radiography students typically undergo simulation-based learning in an academic laboratory setting through clinical scenario role play and imaging of anthropomorphic phantoms. But no studies to date have looked at whether the training contributes to clinical competence, according to the authors.
O’Connor and Rainford sought to measure the effect VR training could have on the clinical assessments of first-year radiography students. They conducted a study that included 191 participants divided into a control group of 93 without VR education and a test group of 98 who underwent seven hours of practice in the immersive VR suite.
Experienced clinical tutors assessed the students as they performed an x-ray exam of the upper or lower limb on a cooperative, ambulatory patient, rating performance on a 5-point Likert scale (with 1 equal to poor and 5 equal to excellent).
VR-trained students performed better than those who did not have the training in 20 of 22 assessment criteria, ranked as “very good” or “excellent” in such tasks as positioning patients for X-rays, selecting exposure factors, evaluating an image For correct patient positioning, and evaluate image quality.
In addition, the VR-trained students’ comprehension of clinical indications, equipment setup, and explanation of the procedure was also significantly better than their peers who were not trained with the VR tool, the authors noted.
Previous research has shown that immersive VR simulation garners high levels of satisfaction among first-year radiography students and that the training improves their self-confidence. According to O’Connor and Rainford, the study shows that VR training also translates to clinical competence among the group.
“VR simulation-based learning [should be] Introduced in the early stages of the radiography degree to assist students in learning basic radiographic technique,” they concluded.
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