Davenport nursing students using holographic software

The cutting-edge technology makes the ‘patient come to life.’
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Davenport students can don the HoloLens goggles and see the various body systems on their digital patient. Courtesy Davenport University

Davenport University’s nursing program is offering its students a new perspective in practicing how to treat COVID-19 patients.

Professors in the nursing program have implemented holographic software into its curriculum to enhance students’ visual understanding and provide a different mode of practicing how to provide holistic treatment to COVID-19 patients.

Amy Stahley, interim dean for the College of Health Professions at Davenport, said 30 students began using the software last winter. Students wear three-dimensional holographic goggles that allow them to see their patient’s body systems.

“There are two components,” she said. “One is the actual goggles, which are HoloLens. Then there is a program that is loaded onto the goggles. When (students) put the HoloLens on, they can make this life-size patient appear and it comes to life, and we can manipulate the program to highlight the symptoms of (COVID-19). We can make the patients do anything we want them to do in the program because there is a professor in the background who is running the program and dictates what the students see.”

When students have the HoloLens on, Stahley describes it as if the student is entering a patient’s room because there are hospital monitors displayed and the patient is wearing a hospital gown in their bed. The professor can allow for a family member to be in the room so students can interact and practice their soft skills.

Although the treatment of COVID-19 was the first thing Davenport nursing students began using the holographic software for, Stahley said they received the HoloLens before the pandemic as part of the university’s Vision 2025 mission, which includes “delivering the highest quality education for students.”

Stahley said Davenport obtained the HoloLens through a grant after she and the former dean of the College of Health Professions, Karen Daley, went to a conference a few years ago.

“We had looked at these HoloLens where students could see their patients and peel back layers of their skin through these holographic lenses, and (using) the programming you could see body systems, anatomy and their physiology, and the instructor can manipulate the computer software as to what the students can and cannot see. The students could tilt the goggles all over the place and we thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is fantastic,’ because they do use it in engineering, medical school and gamers use them all the time, so we thought, ‘We have to have those.’”

“We have other simulators, which are big human beings in all shapes and sizes and colors,” she said. “They are hooked up to computers. We can have those simulators speak to us and change colors. We can put fluids into them, which is all great. We call them high-fidelity simulations. We have those on all of the campuses, which is excellent. It is a really wonderful tool. It is utilized in med schools and nursing programs all over the (country), if they can afford them, but (HoloLens) gives us an element other than a mannequin, although it interacts with you, it is not 3D. It is not like you can open them up through your eyes and look into the internal organs. With the (holographic software), you can actually visualize it, go around the backside of it. It is not just looking down at the front of it.”

The HoloLens will be used by students to focus on other scenarios for different sicknesses and treatment methods that aren’t pre-loaded on the software. Stahley said they will be working in tandem with Davenport’s technology department to create those scenarios.

“It just brings another element to student learning,” she said. “It gives them another safe place to practice before they go out to the clinical area.”

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