Creating medical education in VR

Whether it’s learning how to treat COVID-19 or use a certain device, clinicians master these skills through hands-on experiences. However, it’s impossible for learners to see and experience everything they could face in a health care setting because sometimes cases are rare and sometimes it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

We plug gaps in experiential knowledge through online courses and simulation. Over the last few years, we’ve also invited OSF HealthCare clinician educators and faculty from the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria to develop lessons in virtual reality. The idea is to increase the types of interactive opportunities learners can receive by using an immersive 3D platform.

For faculty and clinician educators who have used VR, they’ve reported an increase in student knowledge retention compared to using lecture or reading materials for education. Learners have said this modality allows for distraction-free education. As a result, our Advanced Imaging and Modeling (AIM) Lab team is offering a free course to educators and faculty from OSF and UICOMP to learn how to create education in virtual reality.

‘VR is a fresh breath of air’

We offered a soft launch of our “How to create in VR” course in December 2021. When educators sign up, they are sent pre-reading materials on VR, what types of education work best in this modality and how to create a lesson.

They are then tasked with developing an outline of an education idea and gathering assets to accompany the class, such as pictures and videos. Educators then come to the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center to build their course, step by step.


“The LUCAS device is a life-changing mechanical chest compression system that is used to perform CPR, reducing clinician fatigue,” said Iulia Ghiorghias, a clinical education scholar for Professional Development at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. “However, we unfortunately don’t have enough of the devices for training purposes. I believe using VR could give more people the opportunity to see what it looks like and understand how it works in a realistic environment.”

During the in-person course at Jump, the AIM Lab team goes over the education outline with faculty, presents VR demos and gives learners the chance to watch how others have developed education in VR.
AIM then walks educators through the process of turning their lecture into a VR class by laying out lessons, recording content and learning the best practices of the modality.

“We currently develop a lot of education using an online platform where learners read hours of content and take quizzes afterward. So, VR is a fresh breath of air for any type of education that requires hands-on activities or the understanding of spatial awareness,” said Ghiorghias.“With VR, you can make mistakes, revisit the content as much as you want to and gain the competency you need.”

‘Discover how beautiful it can be’

As an OSF Innovation lab looking to transform the visualization of anatomy and training in medical education, we believe that humans learn, live and understand better in 3D.  That’s why we continue to leverage emerging 3D modeling technologies to implant mental representations of complex anatomy, surgery, scenarios and other education into learners’ minds.

It’s also why we are offering our faculty and educators opportunities to tap into this immersive education modality through our VR course. For those interested in creating curriculum in VR but are unsure how to use it, we guide, explore and implement along with you. And you can expect to leave with a working VR experience to share with your students and the knowledge of how to create more courses in the future.

“Like anything that is new, people can be a little hesitant because they believe it’s too complicated, but this class wasn’t,” said Ghiorghias. “The VR course at Jump was well structured and accessible. I would encourage others to register for the class, start with a small project and discover the many possibilities this offers for education delivery and how beautiful it can be.”

OSF clinician educators and UICOMP faculty who take this course have the chance to earn Interprofessional Continuing Education credits. Sign up for the class today on HealthStream!

Categories: 3D Heart, Advanced Imaging and Modeling (AIM), Education, Education, Innovation, Interprofessional Education (IPE), Medical Students, OSF HealthCare, OSF Innovation, Simulation, Virtual Reality (VR)