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At one time, virtual reality was a novelty, mostly focused on video games. Those days are gone; today, virtual reality is a useful tool, including in the medical field. When is it coming to the operating room, and why does that matter?

In Some Cases, It’s Already There

Take Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California. Using virtual reality, a neurosurgeon said he can virtually implant himself in a patient’s brain. That technology allows a surgeon to rehearse complex surgery in virtual reality, multiple times if necessary, before operating on a live patient. That can be extremely helpful, especially in surgeries where a millimeter one way or the other can be critical.

This technology is in use at Stanford Medicine, as well. It’s helpful before surgery, but it is also put to excellent use during surgery. Surgeons typically use video feeds while they are operating, but the new VR technology adds a three-dimensional view which they can superimpose on the real-time video.

Why Is Virtual Reality Helpful in the OR?

Until fairly recently, surgeries happened without virtual reality, so why is this technology important? The common thread is the need to intuitively understand and interact with anatomy and ultimately improve patient care. Virtual reality helps with that, and that’s what makes it so valuable in the operating room and other areas of healthcare.

There is so much potential in this area. Improvements in software to render and digitize the two-dimensional information contained in CT, MRI, and other medical scans into three dimensions has the potential to make this technology truly paradigm-shifting. This will make it possible to use virtual reality in other ways in the OR, and it will be useful in other areas of care, as well.

It’s a Useful Teaching Tool

Virtual reality is becoming more and more important in medicine in another way: it’s incredibly useful as a teaching tool. VR has revolutionized simulation by being more accessible, effective, and affordable. Its portability and ease of use open the door for practicing skills and techniques anytime, anywhere. In this way, virtual reality benefits patients even when it’s not being used directly for patient care.

The effects of virtual reality on medical training are impressive. Students who used one type of virtual reality to learn anatomy acquired that knowledge in nearly half the time compared with students who studied the same area solely on cadavers. In this area, too, the potential is unlimited. As students study medicine, virtual reality can be a valuable teaching tool in many ways.

Have You Worked with Virtual Reality?

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. We value your experience, whether it includes working with virtual reality or not. Let us know when you’re looking for your next assignment: 310.436.3650.

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