Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the state government was using emerging technologies to “develop a world-first training simulation”.
“This demonstrates how TAFE NSW is working with industry leaders to develop high-tech, immersive training solutions to address real-world challenges,” he said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the new technology aimed to provide greater access to practical training in a way that would help overcome social distancing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. It would also help improve access to training for people in remote areas of NSW by removing barriers, including travel time or the availability of blood testing devices.
“The simulation aims to provide healthcare professionals across the state, including in regional and remote areas, with greater access to hands-on training scenarios, ultimately increasing the quality of care while also reducing time away from clinical care,” Mr Hazzard said.
General Manager of Werfen Australia and New Zealand Sally Hickman said the pilot would test whether the virtual reality technology could deliver training that was equal to, or better than, face-to-face training.
Ms Hickman said healthcare professionals would know whether they were performing the blood test correctly using the new technology.
“We are challenged when training healthcare professionals at the point of care because we need to travel to the site. We need to be in places like intensive care and emergency departments. Face-to-face training is the traditional method,” she said. “With virtual reality there would not be a need to be in a clinical environment.”
A health professional would only need to wear the virtual reality headset, which could be done in a tea room or other living space.
“This would remove the need for us to be on site, which is huge for us because it is a big cost saving for travel on our part and allows us to extend our reach to regional and remote hospitals,” Ms Hickman said. “With social distancing and access to intensive care units and emergency departments being really restricted, it allows us to continue providing critical training for the healthcare professionals.”
There is big demand for training in blood testing. More than 30,000 healthcare workers are currently registered with NSW Health Pathology to perform blood tests.
Anna Patty is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald with a focus on higher education. She is a former Workplace Editor, Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter.