Home Volume: 3, Issue: Supplement 1
International Journal of Healthcare Simulation
A10Pilot study looking at the benefits of Virtual Reality (VR) simulation for Physician Associates (PA)

https://doi.org/10.54531/ZPLJ9321, Volume: 3, Issue: Supplement 1, Pages: A7-A8
Article Type: Original Research, Article History

Table of Contents


Background and aim:

Simulation is a vital part of medical education [1]. It requires many resources to run successfully [2]. Recently, following the COVID-19 pandemic, Virtual Reality (VR) simulation use has increased. There are advantages to using VR now that costs are more reasonable, saving floorspace and facilitators’ time. However, there are concerns about how useful the software is for Physician Associates (PA), the adverse effects of the headset and whether self-directed debriefing is valuable [3]. This study aims to pilot the questionnaire using VR simulation.


As part of teaching during September 2022 and January 2023, VR simulation was incorporated into appropriate seminars. At the end of the session, Year 1 PA students were invited to complete an online questionnaire based on the Simulation Effectiveness Tool, which was modified for VR. Before the session, all students were on-boarded to use the Oculus Quest 2 and Oxford Medical Simulation software.


Twenty-one out of 25 students completed the questionnaire. 71.4% strongly agreed that VR simulation helped prepare them to respond to a change in the patient’s condition and felt empowered to make clinical decisions. 85.7% felt more confident in providing interventions that foster patient safety. 66.7% felt more confident using evidence-based practice to provide care. When focusing on the self-directed debriefing, 66.7% strongly agreed that it contributed to their learning, and 71.4% strongly agreed that it provided opportunities for self-reflection on their performance. Concerning the headset and software use, 28.6% found it was not easy to log into the headset, but 65% found it easy to load the scenario. 57.1% were confident in navigating the virtual environment. This was after a briefing stage to orientate students to the environment. 70.6% felt safe in the virtual world, and 11.1% felt nauseous while in the scenario. The scenarios were also run via a desktop computer. 85.7% found it easier to navigate the virtual world, with 81% strongly agreeing that they felt immersed in the environment. Surprisingly, 52% of students preferred the desktop version, while 14% favoured it via the Oculus.


VR simulation is an impactful method of providing simulation-based medical education without needing a simulation suite or facilitators. Interestingly, the desktop version can provide an experience that students prefer, but this requires further investigation.

Ethics statement:

Authors confirm that all relevant ethical standards for research conduct and dissemination have been met. The submitting author confirms that relevant ethical approval was granted, if applicable.

Heffernan and Rolfe: A10Pilot study looking at the benefits of Virtual Reality (VR) simulation for Physician Associates (PA)


1. Aggarwal R, Mytton OT, Derbrew M, et al. Training and simulation for patient safety. Quality & Safety in Health Care. 2010;19(Suppl 2).

2. Tabatabai S. COVID-19 impact and virtual medical education. Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism [Internet]. 2020;8(3):140–143. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32802908

3. Barteit S, Lanfermann L, Bärnighausen T, Neuhann F, Beiersmann C. Augmented, mixed, and virtual reality-based head-mounted devices for medical education: systematic review. Vol. 9, JMIR Serious Games. JMIR Publications Inc. 2021.