Beyond the Classroom: the Transformational Journey of a Simulation Educator

Hilary Gupte
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A nurse-turned-simulation educator explores the transformative power of immersive learning technologies, like virtual reality and 360-degree filming, in healthcare education, driven by a passion to better prepare learners for real-world challenges

I have been an acute nurse in Leeds, Manchester and London for 20 years, and took on a role as clinical skills and simulation lead in medical education in Leeds Teaching Hospitals in 2018. I was fortunate to walk into a role where in-situ simulation was already embedded in practice across the two large emergency departments (@LeedsEDsim), and I was able to support the program.  Witnessing authentic learning take place within the heightened atmosphere of emergency settings wasn’t just a professional experience for me, it was a profound moment of realising the real benefits of experiential and immersive learning. This first-hand exposure inspired me to recreate that authenticity and immersion within controlled confines of classroom-based simulated training environments across the curriculum.

Working through COVID, and in the post-COVID landscape, limitations of traditional simulation were becoming apparent. We had reduced capacity permitted in the teaching rooms, and faculty were becoming less available which was a big challenge when traditional simulation required high faculty-to-participant ratios. I recall this sparking my initial interest to explore innovative technologies to continue enabling the benefits of immersive learning and simulation-based education events. Around the same time, funds had become available to explore education with Virtual Reality Headsets. 

One avenue I have explored in more depth is the use of 360-degree filming, and capturing genuine real-world environments, complete with standardised patients. I found this wasn’t just a logistical solution, it could be a way to expose learners into a diverse range of scenarios preparing them further for the complexities of healthcare practice. The challenge I found as a simulation educator was to create and develop course content that would engage the learners through the different modes of delivery, and then the need to adapt debriefing techniques to fit in with a different form of experiential learning. This has given me the drive and ambition to explore extended reality for education further and given me a whole new world to learn about.

Additionally, the appeal of computer-generated virtual reality has become increasingly compelling and more accessible. Constructing entire simulated worlds, where students could actively engage with artificial intelligence and make decisions in an environment mirroring reality, fills me with a sense of awe and anticipation for where healthcare education is heading. I really look forward to what the possibilities that these immersive technologies hold and hope to be part of them.

As simulation educators, we have a crucial role in shaping the future of education

and I have come to realise that this journey goes beyond the strategic implementation of educational tools for me, it taps into the very essence of my passion to provide immersive learning to better prepare healthcare learners for the technical and non-technical challenges they may experience in real-life practice. I am really looking forward to supporting current healthcare practitioners and the next cohort of practitioners in their educational journeys.


Hilary Gupte

Hilary Gupte

Freelance Simulation Educator View all Posts

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