Patricia Benner’s Stages of Clinical Competence states that “a nurse passes through five levels of proficiency: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.” Rewind to August 2012 where Diana just graduated from nursing school and embarked on her journey as a novice nurse. Because so much of what she experienced was so new, a steep learning curve dominated the transitional stages of clinical competence, causing stress and anxiety about everything because of the high-stakes environment. Our project aims to remove barriers of uncertainty in regards to medical equipment a new graduate nurse may have limited experience with such as the Alaris infusion pump utilizing virtual reality and a low-stakes environment. Our example target is a simple workflow of safely starting a bolus infusion for a pediatric patient.

What it does

VRN provides a safe environment for nurses to learn, practice, and ultimately master new medical devices and procedures. Imagine a hospital system rolling out a new medical device. With VRN, nurses can practice using the device in a virtual environment to help alleviate their uncertainty and anxiety. Imagine a new clinical guideline that needs to be followed. With VRN, nurses can work through scenarios inside a virtual environment to hone their skills, increasing performance and safety within the hospital.

Context and Intended Outcome

The intervention will be used before and/or after shift change within an appropriate location. It also has the potential to be socialized into nursing school programs or new graduate nurse orientations.

This design should convey complex information in an understandable and engaging way, to inform, and educate Alaris device workflows to increase proficiency and reduce uncertainty around the Alaris system. Ultimately, to create better patient outcomes.


• The ability to run through the same simulation multiple times

• The capacity to record ambiguous events in real-time

• The potential to learn workflow with or without supervision in an engaging, fully immersive way

• The benefit of keeping working devices in use

• Affordable for institutions

• Ability to playback a simulation to learn from mistakes

• Live coaching within the simulation

• More practical and affordable than AR solutions.

Current Features

• Run through a training or testing scenario, focused around the Alaris device system and basic workflow

• Hints, which allows a user to either get additional information or point to the next task in the scene

• Soft and hard-stops: these are active callouts which allow the user to see when a workflow is improper

• Handles linear and non-linear workflows.

How We Built It

• Met with nurses to discuss the devices that can be useful to learn

• Took pictures of the Alaris device machine and display

• Created meshes in 3DS Max and purchased a couple of other assets

• Set up the application first using Unity then transitioned into Unreal for faster iteration times

• Used blueprint language to build out the logical workflow

Challenges We Ran Into

• Physics within the environment on chained-objects, for example, the IV line

• Not having a developer on-hand to ask logic questions

• Balancing realism with performance

• Learning nursing practice

• Gathering reference data for medical devices.

Accomplishments that We’re Proud Of

• The nurses who have tested it are impressed and enjoyed it

• Non-nurses retain information

• Created a lot of content in a very short amount of time.

• We feel like we have created something which can really impact nursing and patient outcome.

What We Learned

• Nursing is complicated

• Virtual reality can be an effective tool for teaching complex tasks.

• Some aspects to simulate a real environment like some physics aren't required to make an effective application.

• Some older users had to be encouraged before they felt comfortable enough to physically walk around a play area.

What's next for VRN

• Login credentials

• Data collection while training and testing to assist instructors.

• Data aggregation to show overall trends and pain points.

• Multi-user support for virtual classrooms, allowing instructors to provide information to groups of nurses.

• More Devices/workflows

• Better UI for level selection based on workflow or device.

• Testing for efficacy.

• Eventually used for Education Credits

Additional Links & Video Content

VRN Unreal Project Files


Project Brief (PDF)

Features Highlight

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