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Issued:21/06/13

Sheffield Hallam University has become the UK's first higher education institution to use a new piece of cutting edge technology that assesses empathy and compassion in healthcare.

Augmented reality (AR) has been introduced into the University's nursing and midwifery curriculum which sees videos of patients, played by actors, superimposed onto training manikins.

The computer-generated images or video of the patient is overlaid onto the dummy via an iPad tablet and provides a 'real' account of the patient experience.

It is designed to give trainee nurses a range of scenarios to test their reactions and their patient communication skills.

Sheffield Hallam's facilities for student nurses and midwives have been acknowledged and recognised by the new healthcare education and training body, Health Education England (HEE).

Dr Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, director of nursing at HEE, visited the University's Robert Winston Building - home to its Health and Well-being faculty - and saw first-hand how the students are fully equipped for a career on the hospital wards.

Demonstrations were given of other simulated and interactive sessions supplied at the University, including the simulated operating theatre and the new laser technology installed to compliment the virtual radiotherapy system.

The National Health Service came under scrutiny following the publication of the Francis Report earlier this year which criticised the lack of dignity and empathy amongst healthcare professionals.

But, this week's visit was prompted by chair of HEE, Sir Keith Pearson after he recognised Sheffield Hallam's long-standing commitment to ensuring care and compassion in nursing is at the forefront of its training.

Dr Bayliss-Pratt, said: "I've had a wonderful day and I think this University is not only dovetailing our own research and development with education and training, it's genuinely inter-professionally driven, and it feels like there's a real 'hearts and minds' approach from engaging with service providers to senior leaders. All the key players here are really committed to supplying high quality education and training.

Augmented reality gives student nurses a realistic scenario of patient care
Student nurses embrace augmented reality technology

Click to view the images

"From what I've seen and from its values and behaviours that I've observed, the University is really committed to delivering compassionate healthcare professionals. The facilities are a conduit because it's the people that are demonstrating the importance of having compassionate care."

Jean Flanagan, assistant dean and head of nursing and midwifery, said: "Our philosophy around care and compassion has always underpinned our curriculum, long before the Francis report was published. I am delighted to have been able to welcome Dr Bayliss-Pratt to Sheffield Hallam and really showcase what we have to offer our students.

"We are one of the earliest providers of nurse training in higher education, having been established in 1974 and our graduates are well-established and well-respected by our local health partners with whom we have an extremely successful working relationship.

"The introduction of augmented reality has been a hit with our students and staff and it has allowed us to realistically assess how our students are going to perform when they are out on the wards."  

For press information contact: Sarah Duce on 0114 225 4025 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk