By Samantha Moyer, senior technology product manager, Wolters Kluwer Health.
We have all heard the staggering statistics of the current workforce issues happening across the healthcare industry, and one of the biggest segments facing staffing issues is nursing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 203,200 openings for RNs each year through 2031 when nurse retirements and workforce exits are factored into the number of nurses needed in the U.S.
While there are many factors around why we have a nursing shortage currently, one of the areas that is often overlooked are the issues facing nurses who just graduated college and are transitioning into practice.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the divide between the demands of nursing programs and requirements of working in health systems has only grown. We are increasingly seeing an alarming number of young nurses leaving the profession shortly after receiving their degree partially because they are not receiving the hands-on experiences needed to prep them for this transition. Even if they are interacting with patients, they often aren’t forced to navigate the care of multiple patients at once like they would in a real-world care setting.
Because of this gap, technology can be a critical tool in helping the next generation of nurses get ready for their day-to-day professional lives. Specifically, virtual reality (VR) is giving us the ability to put multiple, diverse patient cases and hospital situations directly into the hands of nursing students – giving them experiences they have not had access to previously before they reach the bedside.
VR transports nurses to the hospital floor
COVID-19 forever changed the healthcare industry in countless ways and many of the opportunities that were available to students preparing for a career in healthcare, such as in-depth clinical rotations and managing a caseload of multiple patients, before the pandemic are now limited. One of the most important and formative times of a nursing student’s education is their clinical experiences – when the students go into the healthcare setting to see and react to patients alongside experienced nurses.