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Future pharmacists trained using virtual-reality technology

VR training

The next generation of pharmacists are among the first to use cutting-edge technology as they prepare for work in local hospitals.

Pharmacy trainees have been using virtual-reality (VR) headsets to develop their skills at Basildon Hospital and help them to understand the needs of patients better.

The trainees meet ‘virtual’ patients, interact with them, and then work out how to respond to different scenarios. This prepares them under safe conditions to care for patients in the real world.

The training course was arranged by Health Education England (HEE) to build on traditional teaching offered for trainee pharmacists. While VR is increasingly used in medical and clinical training, it is the first time that this has been applied to a simulated pharmacy in Essex.

Thirteen trainees took part, and there are plans to introduce VR technology to teach other departments at the hospital in future. HEE will also make VR a core part of the foundation training for pharmacists.

Wilson Alvares, Simulation Lead at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We already provide excellent training courses for our students and trainees, and I’m excited that we are starting to offer VR to develop their education further. This will help us to deliver cost-effective, standardised and repeatable clinical training on demand.”

The trainees will continue their studies at training centres across the east of England, with many set to work in the pharmacy departments of local hospitals.

Dr Nkiruka Umaru, Deputy Head of Pharmacy and Post-registration Lead at HEE, said: “We are really pleased to have the opportunity to train our future pharmacists in mid and south Essex using the latest technology. This will equip them to handle different clinical situations in the real world and ultimately improve the care we give to our patients.”

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