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Initial evaluation of a virtual reality bomb-defusing simulator for development of undergraduate healthcare student communication and teamwork skills

Abstract

Communication and teamworking skills are essential healthcare professional skills, yet undergraduates exhibit reluctance to engage with group work, especially in interprofessional groups. The aim of the study was to investigate whether a virtual reality bomb-defusing simulator would enable students to gain these skills through an enjoyable and challenging scenario without profession-specific knowledge. Students took it in turns to play the role of the ‘Defuser’ immersed in a headset, while the rest of the group were ‘Experts’ with a printed manual, but no sight of the bomb. The task challenged students to relay obscure symbols and instructions to each other rapidly and effectively. A subsequent focus group explored the impact of the simulation on students’ perceived learning, engagement and communication skills. The focus group of five multiprofessional healthcare students reported high levels of engagement and satisfaction while highlighting value in developing communication and teamwork. The simulator nurtured initial group dynamics and team bonding. Evaluation data indicated that the intervention facilitated cooperation, team bonding and the development of good communication skills. This method of encouraging communication would fit well into an interprofessional learning session as a useful tool ahead of more technical and clinically based group work.

The focus group of five multiprofessional healthcare students reported high levels of engagement and satisfaction while highlighting value in developing communication and teamwork. The simulator nurtured initial group dynamics and team bonding.

  • virtual reality
  • teamwork
  • communication skills
  • interprofessional learning
  • undergraduate education
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