Medical and nursing students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) will soon have access to virtual reality training.

The rise in mental health illnesses, according to Assistant Professor Cyrus Ho of the Department of Psychological Medicine, has increased aggressiveness toward healthcare workers.

Virtual Reality in Agitation Management (VRAM) was developed by NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine for medical and nursing students.

Patients have verbally insulted, kicked, and spit at healthcare personnel, according to Prof Ho and Assistant Professor Shawn Goh of NUS Nursing.

VRAM is a game that simulates a drug-induced psychotic patient that acts erratically, tries to harm healthcare staff, and kidnaps a child.

TV sounds, nurse enquiries, and family concerns are all part of the simulation.

Students use VR headsets and controllers to traverse the simulation.

They are given options on how to deal with the situation, including what to say, how much medication to provide, and whether or not to physically restrain the patient.

If the learner makes the correct decision, the virtual patient will unwind and retire to bed.

In the worst-case scenario, the patient leaves the ward.

“Learning in virtual reality is risk-free because incorrect responses will not harm anyone.” Prof. Goh claims that they learn the right course of action, which helps them manage real-life events and prevent harming patients and healthcare personnel.

In August 2021, 65 medical and nursing students participated in the programme, which began in March 2020.

Beginning next month, the programme will be required for fourth-year medical and second-year nursing students as part of a larger lesson called Managing Aggression with Immersive Content.

The three-hour class includes a lecture on verbal de-escalation as well as hands-on patient restraint instruction.

“When the patient throws things at you, you feel a tremor,” says Isaac Soh, a 22-year-old nursing student. In a difficult situation, the simulation helps me think swiftly.

Miss Chloe Chia, a 20-year-old second-year nursing student, said students can’t handle upset patients during hospital placements to avoid getting hurt.

This programme allows kids to make mistakes without worrying about harming themselves.

“The programme teaches me things I wouldn’t have learned in school.” She made a number of blunders intentionally in order to learn from them.

“We will encounter more unsettled individuals in the future,” Prof Ho said, “and healthcare workers must be sensitive while making rushed decisions.”

“We believe that via integrated learning, future generations of healthcare professionals will be able to handle agitation with compassion and understanding.”

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