As technology progresses, the Nursing Program at Moraine Valley Community College is following suit, having completed its first cohort using virtual reality in class and purchasing high fidelity simulators.

Last month, nursing classes at the main campus in Palos Hills and at the Education Center at Blue Island used 25 Oculus headsets and specific software to simulate being in a hospital and treating a patient. With the headset on, students walk into a virtual hospital room, talk to a patient who responds and relays symptoms, and the students must decide on treatment. Sometimes the patient becomes unstable, and students need to call the doctor or help the patient recover. They even can look at charts and X-rays as if they were really in the room with a patient.

Faculty programmed a multitude of patient responses and charts into the software to give students various situations they may encounter in the real world, and they enjoyed the learning experience.

“Every student said it was realistic. They were having fun, but they were learning,” said Georgina Murphy, Moraine Valley nursing instructor, who helped program the software. “It gives them another tool to practice what we taught them.”

Students use virtual reality equipment to simulate treating patients in a Moraine Valley Community College nursing class.

Students use virtual reality equipment to simulate treating patients in a Moraine Valley Community College nursing class.

The students still use SIM patients, which are mannequins that demonstrate human functions such as heartbeats and breathing, to practice techniques in class, but this virtual option helps with critical thinking and assessing scenarios where these future nurses need to make critical decisions.

“I was really excited to be a part of the first cohort to experience virtual reality for the Nursing Program. I have never done virtual reality before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Natalie Wigginton, a student from Oak Lawn. “After doing the training session and the simulation, I actually grew very fond of it. It definitely helped me become a better nurse.”

The equipment can be used for any nursing class at any level. If students have an Oculus at home, they just need to log into their account and access Moraine Valley’s program.

Murphy is going to work on a virtual study guide with information from textbooks to help students see what they’re learning. Few colleges are using this, and she doesn’t know of any other community college using it like they are in the Nursing Program.

The department also purchased two CAE Apollo high-fidelity, adult patient simulators to replace its Laerdal ones. This equipment is easier to set up and operate and is not confined to one room because of a tetherless system. They have the latest technology within the simulators and its peripherals (computer and tablet), and faculty will be trained on them next month.

“Our current mannequins will not match what the new ones can do in terms of hemorrhaging, realistic full code and CPR to see if compressions are accurate and working, convulsions and more,” said Debi Savage, Moraine Valley director of Nursing.


For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or