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UC health students examine holographic patients

Danielle Meddemmen

8 September 2021: The news of a Territory-wide lockdown was worrying for most, but especially for final-year nursing students trying to soak in as much knowledge and practical experience as possible, before graduating and hitting the frontline.

In order to help our University of Canberra students in their final semester, the Faculty of Health’s Associate Dean Work Integrated Learning, Dr Jane Frost, has found a way to do just that.

Using a mobile app called HoloPatient Remote, from extended reality software service gigXR, Dr Frost can stream a virtual patient directly into her students’ study space during an online lesson.

“Essentially what this application shows is a real-life person who has been filmed previously and is showing signs of a particular condition for the students to assess,” she explained.

“The students’ login to the app during our classes and scan the space they are working in with their phone or device, and the patient pops up in that space, through their phone.

“Students then have the opportunity to walk around the patient, see their vital signs and assess their physical symptoms like they would in a clinical setting.”

Students have the opportunity to continue using their practical skills through initiatives such as administering COVID-19 vaccinations with Canberra Health Services’ COVID-19 surge workforce, however lockdown has transitioned their learning online.

Final-year nursing student Sophie Osborne participated in one of the first HoloPatient tutorials with Dr Frost, and said it was a great initiative to complement online learning.

“I really liked it! The whole class was on the group call, so it was great to have those collaborative discussions about the patient we were all seeing in front of us,” she said.

“In a typical workshop we would do the same sort of thing with a mannequin, but the tutor would fill in the blanks of the vitals signs and their symptoms, so in some aspects this was a better way to understand the patient holistically.”

The HoloPatient app has a variety of patients with different conditions which a teacher can stream to their students – including one patient suffering from COVID-19.

Ms Osborne will graduate at the end of Semester Two 2021 and said that she was originally nervous about carrying out her final learning period remotely.

“My classmates and I were nervous about not being able to continue those practical skills,” she said. “While it’s not the same as being in a clinical setting, it’s a great initiative that has us using and consolidating our practical assessment skills.”