Grant will allow nursing faculty to create diversity, equity, inclusion training in virtual reality

Faculty in the UIC College of Nursing received a grant to create virtual reality simulations that will deliver diversity, equity and inclusion training to nursing students and faculty.

The $20,000 in funding was provided by the American Nurses Association’s National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing. It was one of 10 projects selected from more than 130 submissions.

Clinical assistant professor Paige Ricca DNP ’17 and Rose Hernandez, associate dean for equity and inclusion, are leading the project. Clinical Learning Resource Center director Katie Vanderzwan DNP ’17, MS ’06 will serve as simulation consultant.

Virtual simulations are gaining prominence as a method for diversity, equity and inclusion training in medical education but are not yet used widely in nursing programs, according to the project submission.

“Unlike other formats, virtual reality simulations offer an experiential and fully immersive, first-person vantage point for evidence-based diversity, equity and inclusion training,” Ricca said. “We hope the experiences will provide unique insights into the challenges and perspectives faced by students and faculty of color in academic nursing and that those lessons will translate to the nursing care of racial and ethnic minority groups.”

The VR-based training is considered a pilot trial. Funds will be used to hire a software engineer to design the simulations. Over the course of the next year, Hernandez and Ricca will monitor faculty and student engagement in training and debriefing sessions, evaluate satisfaction and measure confidence in addressing discrimination and racism in classroom and clinical environments.

The college previously has used virtual reality for clinical training and medical procedure simulation, as well as to deliver mindfulness programs to students, but this is the first time it will be used for diversity, equity and inclusion training, Hernandez said.

There is a clear need for addressing racism in nursing, according to the American Nurses Association. Nearly half of nurses agree there is “a lot” of racism in nursing, according to a national survey of more than 5,600 nurses conducted by The National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing.

“The American Nurses Association is honored to present these funds to these inspiring programs who are taking deliberate action to truly dismantle racism within their respective initiatives and organizations,” said Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, American Nurses Association president.

— Written by Deborah Ziff Soriano

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