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Immersive VR for midwifery students

College of Nursing & Midwifery
Michelle Gray

In a joint study between Charles Darwin University and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Rainmaker Grant funds will be used to convert the format of a 3D midwifery virtual reality (VR) resource currently viewable only in a specialised CAVE, into a format viewable on a mobile device.

Senior Lecturer in Midwifery Dr Michelle Gray, who joined CDU in April, developed the teaching artefact while working at USC with design technicians, Simon Osbourne, Christopher Andersen and David Dixon. Together they created a 3D midwifery visualisation resource that represents the anatomy and physiology of the birth of the placenta and membranes to simulate the process of haemostasis during the third stage of labour.

In semester 1, 2020 a pilot study will be performed to evaluate the suitability of the mobile format for midwifery education and investigate the impact of 3DMVR on student’s retention of knowledge. 

“Understanding complex health conditions can be challenging for undergraduate health care students,” Dr Gray said.

According to Dr Gray, textbooks alone do not adequately explain physiological phenomena. New Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) have opened the door to the development of innovative pedagogical solutions to support the retention of new knowledge.

“Midwifery students can now immerse themselves in a realistic, internal, virtual world of the uterus,” she said.

“The resource enables viewers to revisit the anatomy and physiology of the uterus, placenta and membranes and introduces the physiological processes that simultaneously occur after the birth of a baby.”

In the last year, Dr Gray has written two papers on this topic which are under review at present. She has also presented at eight conferences on the use of 3D visualisation in midwifery. Interest from other universities is high and funding is being sought for a nationwide study.