Shot of a set of hands high fiving in victory
Finding tools like VR to help train nurses can help address staff shortages. (Credit: jeffbergen / Getty Images)

Virtual reality has become a popular technology for entertaining seniors, but it is also emerging as a way to train their caregivers.

In part due to the pandemic, the use of VR for training nurses has been “extensively implemented” over the past 15 years, a new bibliometric study affirms. 

The ability to attract new nurses will be crucial for the future of the senior living and care sectors as the field has endured a chronic staffing shortage and many current caregivers are aging themselves.

VR can help simulate several training scenarios that could be difficult to create in a real setting. The tech also can provide a more nuanced experience rather than a “conventional and generic” live demonstration, the authors note.

The analysis did not provide statistics on the actual number of nurses or programs using VR, but instead collected data on the volume of literature about the technology and its use in training programs. Since 2015, the number of journal articles about VR training has increased fourfold, the study found.

The novelty of the VR plays a crucial role in its value as a training tool, the study authors suggested.

“Considering the low efficiency of traditional nursing professional skills training methods, it can be challenging to motivate nursing students to engage with enthusiasm,” the authors wrote.

The VR training method is far from perfect, the authors said, with issues ranging from “unclear navigation systems” to overall lack of tech literacy. But future software both could decrease the difficulty of operating and increase the number of scenarios nurses may face, the study stated.

Within the senior living and care space, VR is expanding beyond pure entertainment to be a tool for treatment and telehealth, McKnight’s reported this year.

The study was published this month in the journal JMIR Serious Games.