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RPCC Nursing Students Utilize Virtual Reality for Clinical Prep

Nursing Virtual Reality Photo

Photo submitted by James McCrary

Gonzales, LA – During the week of finals at River Parishes Community College, students from the LPN program at the Reserve campus experienced virtual reality (VR) as part of their healthcare training. This immersive & spatial technology puts the student in a virtual setting where they can experience real-life scenarios in the healthcare industry.  

“Virtual reality takes our school on to the cutting edge of nursing & clinical practice,” RPCC’s PN Nursing Coordinator & Faculty Lori Dimperio, RN said. “The students are SO excited having received a couple of days' worth of getting to know the VR scenarios- that they cannot wait to get back for spring semester and jump into more scenarios and practice, practice, and practice some more.”  

Along with providing great practice, VR allows for practicing in a safe environment. Students get hands-on experience before even practicing on a real patient.  

"The ability for us to align certain skills and give exposure to specific scenarios to our students in a safe, easily repeatable, and highly quantifiable manner is empowering to students and faculty alike,” said James McCrary, RPCC’s Director of Innovative Teaching & Learning.  

As part of a larger initiative in spatial learning, RPCC expanded its VR Mobile Sim Lab to include a permanent, fixed VR Sim Lab at Reserve. RPCC has been implementing this technology, specifically for health science programs, over the last year, but the new facility at the Reserve campus creates a unique opportunity for the river region.  

With over 50 pre-built scenarios, instructors and students can get started in the VR platform immediately. And when students are done, the VR healthcare platform allows for instructors to capture data that otherwise is counterproductive, if not impossible, to assess student performance with necessary skills.  

From how long the student took to make decisions, to rewatching the student’s performance, and even automatically capturing skills gaps based on objectives the instructor prescribes, faculty can focus more on the teaching, learning, and reteaching necessary to help students reach their highest potential as healthcare professionals. However, the power of this VR healthcare platform goes beyond those features. In consultation with faculty, RPCC’s Department of Innovative Teaching & Learning is developing their own healthcare experiences in VR to represent situations healthcare professionals more accurately in south Louisiana will encounter.  

“I love the ability to take care of patients in this safe environment and practice skills before ever having to take care of a live patient” says Gretchen Schmidt, Dean of Health Sciences at RPCC. “Students feel like a real nurse because the simulation is so real. It is interactive and cool.”  

The new VR Sim Lab at Reserve will be fully implemented into RPCC’s LPN program at the Reserve campus this upcoming spring semester.  

The next step is to bring the concept of the VR Mobile Sim Lab and the VR Sim Lab at Reserve to remote opportunities for students. RPCC is working on a program that will allow the students access to VR technologies at home. With this, students will not only get to practice these scenarios but will also get to connect to their peers without needing a physical lab. The pilot program will begin with a group of students in the spring of 2024.  

These types of unique learning opportunities have a positive impact on the communities RPCC serves, and the college is excited to make these experiences possible for its students to start here, geaux anywhere. 

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Campus Locations

Gonzales Campus
925 W. Edenborne Parkway
Gonzales, LA. 70737

Reserve Campus
181 Regala Park Road
Reserve, LA. 70084

St. Charles Campus
13145 HWY 90
Boutte, LA. 70039

Westside Campus
25250 Tenant Road
Plaquemine, LA. 70764


River Parishes Community College is committed to collaboration, accountability, respect & inclusion,
excellence, and sustainability.

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