UNT Health Science Center Opens Regional Simulation Center With ‘Fully Immersive’ VR Rooms »Dallas Innovates

Simulation is an important part of healthcare education. Now the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth has taken it to a whole new level by opening the first virtual-reality “simulation center” in Texas.

Thursday was the ribbon cutting for UNT HSC’s new $6.75 million Regional Simulation Center† It Characteristics “immersive simulation rooms” powered by 360-degree virtual reality projections; 14 realistic-looking examination rooms; VR headset learning experiences; a customizable suite of procedural skills; a suite for daily activities designed to look like the interior of a house; and various team and learning spaces.

“HSC’s regional simulation center will not only improve healthcare outcomes and patient safety, but this state-of-the-art facility will act as a beacon for potential medical students, technology companies and other entrepreneurs,” Fort Worth City said. Council Representative Leonard Firestone in a statement. “The center will let entrepreneurs know that Fort Worth embraces new ideas and emerging technologies and is a leader in life sciences entrepreneurship. The economic impact of this center could be a game changer for our city as HSC strengthens its position as a leading healthcare facility.”

‘Advanced technology’

Students and employees of UNT HSC practice on a mannequin in the new Regional Simulation Center. [Photo: HSC]

“The opening of HSC’s new Regional Simulation Center is really exciting because it will be the first immersive virtual reality simulation center in the state of Texas,” said UNT System Chancellor and HSC President Dr. Michael R. Williams in a statement. “Advanced technology allows our students and caregivers to practice and learn new skills in the most realistic environments. This will ultimately benefit patients and increase patient safety.”

The immersive simulation room can immerse students and experienced health professionals in realistic environments, such as a rugged wooded berm where a patient must be treated in the wild (as seen in the top photo).

The center is located in a renovated space on the first floor of the Gibson D. Lewis Library at 955 Montgomery St. in Fort Worth. It is open to training for hospital stay programs, emergency medical responders, hospital staff, nursing home staff, clinical teams, first responders and more, according to UNT HSC.

The “flexibility” to practice…and practice again

Rendering of an AI-powered immersive simulation room at UNT HSC’s regional simulation center. [Video still: HSC]

Karen Meadows, MSN, RN, the program director said in March that one of the great benefits of the lab will be its accessibility for students.

“No student should leave our university and say, ‘I haven’t had a chance to be fully prepared for my future experience,'” Meadows said in a statement. “For me, that’s really why the simulation center is here. Some students go through it twice, and they’ve mastered it. Others may need eight, and that student should be given an opportunity to come in and practice. The flexibility that this center offers will ensure that.”

Virtual reality helps students in different ways

UNT HSC Regional Simulation Center Practice Areas. [Rendering: HSC]

According to UNT HSC, the medical research community believes that virtual reality training helps students retain information better, make correct clinical decisions, and arrive at those decisions faster than students who learn only through lectures and 2D simulations. HSC’s newly opened center joins “a small but growing number of training centers across the country” that are incorporating virtual reality into their healthcare curriculum, HSC says.

In March, Dr. Bharti Chaudhari, Simulation Director for Emergency Medicine at John Peter Smith Hospitalcalled HSC’s new center “a dream come true” for its program.

“You couldn’t wish for a better workout,” Chaudhari said in a statement. “It is as real as possible and yet as deliberate and critical as you want it to be. You don’t just learn by heart; you teach concepts, things that teach students to think critically. If students leave this area, they will be a good doctor wherever they go.”

Fort Worth Report has a photo gallery of the labs opening day reveal here

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