SWMI Sim Lab and VR Room Helps Prepare Students for Real World Patient Encounters

SWMI Sim Lab and VR Room Helps Prepare Students for Real World Patient Encounters

Petty Officer 1st Class Jermia Douglas of the Surface Warfare Medicine Institute recently shared how the US Navy program is utilizing advanced simulation training with his articles “Train like you fight, fight like you train.”, posted on the dvidshub.net website:

In an effort to align training and fighting, Surface Warfare Medical Institute opened its first Simulation Laboratory (Sim Lab) with one simulator in a small room in October 2009. The main purpose for the Sim Lab was to provide a realistic type of training environment for students to safely practice medicine through repetition and hands-on practice. It also provided the capability to better train Independent Duty Corpsmen (IDC) students through the use of advanced technology. This provided the students with the same opportunity that is offered to students of civilian medical fields such as nursing and allied health professional training programs.

A few years after the introduction of the Sim Lab, a Virtual Reality (VR) room was built in December 2013. The VR rooms provided the same experience as the Sim Lab while enhancing simulated environments of the Middle East and onboard ships. Currently the VR rooms are used by instructors and students at SWMI and have the ability to add physical stressors to enhance the experience for the students. Smoke, dim lighting, changes in sound, background videos, and various props can be introduced to heighten the experience. This type of capability is designed to bridge the gap between practical scenarios and real world patient encounters.


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“It’s a controlled environment where students can get hands-on experience before they go out to the fleet,” said Lt. Hope Moore, physician supervisor for trauma at SWMI. “One of the most significant aids is the development of muscle memory, so that when it comes to treating an actual patient it’s a much smoother process.”

Muscle memory consolidates specific motor tasks into memory through repetition and many of the instructors believe that using the Sim Lab and VR room enrich classroom learning through hands-on practice. Students are able to practice procedures and scenarios in a safe and controlled environment as often as they need. This gives students the chance to practice before they are assessed on their abilities.


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