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College of Nursing, Radlab augmented reality collaboration shows potential of augmented reality

Putting technology into the hands of students, faculty, and staff across Creighton University, the innovation analysts at the University’s Radlab know it’s only a matter of time before the innovators are everywhere.

A recent case in point is the Radlab’s dissemination of augmented reality technology it piloted earlier this year. The lab embedded 3D images and videos into posters shown at the Center for Undergrad Research and Scholarship Research Fair. Aiming smartphones at the embedded targets brought the posters to life and added an extra layer of information and insight into the presentations.

“It’s been a great way for us to help students and faculty to enhance what they’re doing, and provide different angles and insights,” said Mark Panning, the Radlab’s information technology director. “We just didn’t think of this one.”

This one is augmented reality come to life in the clinical classroom setting of the Creighton College of Nursing. Using the technology, nursing faculty Kandis McCafferty, PhD, Cindy Hadenfeldt, EdD, Beth Flott EdD, and Marissa Stanton, PhD MBA, have devised a way to present simulated patients to students in a more expansive, meaningful, and cost-effective way.

By putting case studies up on augmented-reality posters, students can point a device at a photo on the poster and see interviews with the patient or the patient’s family, get reports from the previous nurse, check the patient’s pharmacy and laboratory records, and even get a glimpse at a recent electrocardiogram.

“The end goal is that the students get a snapshot look at how pathophysiology, health assessment, and pharmacology come together,” said McCafferty, an assistant professor in the college and coordinator of the simulation lab. “It’s teaching different ways of interaction and it’s something we think might be useful for board examinations, maybe even in a hospital or clinical setting. Right now, we can bring that clinical setting to a general classroom. There’s a lot of potential here.”

In the case studies, students look at a man who has a myocardial infarction while shoveling snow, a woman who fractures her femur, a man with a COPD exacerbation and a man who has a stroke. All the simulations involve patients with underlying complications that compel students to probe deeper into their patients’ stories and diagnoses.

And all scenarios end with specific interventions for the patients. Working in teams of two to three, the nursing students use the augmented reality to come to their conclusions.

“These are all opportunities to think deeply about your patient,” said Hadenfeldt, an assistant professor. “It’s not just knowledge, it’s thinking critically and recognizing, ‘OK, this patient might be depressed, this patient may have another issue arising.’ We want the students to be asking, in the course of interacting with the patient and the patient’s family, ‘What’s really going on here?’”

After seeing augmented reality at work, the nursing faculty scheduled a meeting with Panning and two Radlab innovation interns, Xuemei Ma and Allison Oliveros. The possibility for a more holistic approach to nursing education was immediately apparent.

“A next step might be the use of virtual reality,” said Stanton, an assistant professor and director of the simulation lab. “In a lot of cases, we use mannequins and usually only just a model of a segment of the body. Or we have a simulated patient, which can present other challenges. With virtual reality and the ability to see and treat the whole person, we can cement that learning.”

Already, the Radlab is looking to the next frontier for the College of Nursing.

“That’s what the Radlab is all about,” Panning said. “The College of Nursing had the idea and just needed to find a way to make it work. We have those ways.”


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