Many people view "learning" only in the contexts of education and training applications. This report focuses on the use of virtual reality to enhance learning across healthcare. We begin with a rigorous definition of the term “learning” and show that learning is broadly applicable in healthcare, going well beyond just education and training. Next, the neurobiology of learning is reviewed. Finally, three use cases in healthcare learning are outlined. In each case, we take a storytelling approach by introducing the reader to a hypothetical individual with a problem for which virtual reality can be of service. Finally, we end with closing remarks and areas for further discussion.
Bill is a 60-year-old former construction worker and Desert Storm veteran. He has been divorced for 20 years and has two grown children. He has struggled with alcohol addiction for nearly 40 years and it has affected his personal and professional life. Bill is estranged from his ex-wife and children, has difficulty with personal relationships and has been unable to find work for the past 5 years, in large part due to the negative impact of his addiction on his treatment of fellow employees. Bill is losing faith in himself, the healthcare system, and has contemplated suicide more than once.
Jerome is a 29 year old Registered Nurse who lives and works in the Heartland of America. Jerome received his R.N. in early 2019 and immediately found employment in a nearby hospital in St. Louis. He was excited to put his knowledge and skills to work in the interest of patient health and well-being. As with so many newly-minted RNs he found the job exhilarating, but he also felt like there were some significant gaps in his training. In particular, he noticed very quickly that interpersonal skills are central to providing high-quality healthcare, yet this was almost completely absent from his formal training.
When he expressed this concern to his more seasoned colleagues they all nodded their head in agreement and assured him that effective communication skills training would be learned on-the-job. It was unspoken, though clear, they all agreed more training on these critical skills ought to be available in school.
Joanna is a 35-year old mother of two. Her oldest, Aiden is in middle school, and her youngest, Henry is in elementary school. Joanna is a Marketing Director at a medium sized business in the Midwest.
Like all Americans (and many across the globe), Joanna’s life changed drastically in the early months of 2020 with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. She went from recovering from the winter holidays and planning a family trip during Spring Break, to sheltering in place with her spouse and children.