Originally featured in “The Pulse” at White Plains Hospital, December 2020 issue.

Clinicians begin using virtual reality to reinforce proper PPE procedures

We all got an education on PPE this year. Now the ED’s Dr. Farrukh Jafri, Assistant Director of Simulation and Education at White Plains Hospital, has found a fun and efficient way to ensure that clinical staff all get repeated practice in this critical procedure – by turning to virtual reality training.

A U.S.-based study found that 90% of doffing procedures are incorrectly done by providers, which can result in the spread of germs beyond the patient room. Consequently, Dr. Jafri has developed a virtual reality program that allows staff to practice donning and doffing masks, shields, gloves and gowns over and over again until it becomes second nature – without wasting actual equipment.

His simulation program, created in partnership with Axon Park, won best oral presentation at the Mount Sinai Tristate Simulation Symposium, and second place in the Infectious Disease Society of American Incubator Competition 2020. It will also be the basis of a research study at Montefiore Medical Center.

Medical VR Training Sessions

Medical VR Training Sessions

As part of the pilot program this summer, physicians and nurses were standing in the Hospital’s Simulation lab outfitted in a virtual reality headset and holding two controllers, doing what looked to an outsider like a robot-style dance. They were actually inside a virtual exam room, going through three phases of training – tutorial, practice and testing. Participants receive a score at the end of the 30-minute training, with a passing grade or opportunity to go through the training again.

“It was very easy to use and provides realistic experience,” says Dr. Jerry Guzik, an emergency medicine physician at WPH. “Given the relative shortage of PPE, having something like this available for training is tremendous.”

According to Dr. Jafri, studies have shown that VR training is equal to or more effective than traditional methods of training, and can significantly improve the accuracy, speed, and long-term retention of medical tasks. He is currently working with WPH clinical educators to roll this program out on a Hospital-wide basis in the near future.