August 17, 2023

Virtual simulations are changing the future of healthcare education (SDG 4)

The long-standing challenges of securing clinical placements for healthcare programs, exacerbated by COVID-19, have significantly limited opportunities for students to gain valuable workplace experience. These challenges are even more pronounced for students living outside large urban areas or those belonging to underrepresented groups who face additional barriers to access.    

To ensure the next generation of healthcare professionals are well-equipped, healthcare educators are seeking out creative learning opportunities. More than ever, virtual simulations are emerging as a modality to help students develop a broader range of clinical competencies in a scalable and cost-effective way. 

SDG 4 challenges us to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. That means we need to find innovative ways to develop learning tools that can enhance educational resources and lead to successful employment for all students in Canada, wherever they live. 

Virtu-WIL is an innovative work-integrated learning (IWIL) project that has given the opportunity to educators to collaborate with simulation experts to create virtual simulations. From this collaboration, educators across Canada can freely access over 185 virtual simulations as open educational resources designed to give students in nursing, medical laboratory sciences, paramedicine, and sonography programs hands-on learning experiences to improve their clinical skills and knowledge. In fact, in one year of the Virtu-WIL program, our open educational resources were viewed by 12,000 educators, students, and community members. Additionally, over 4,700 students gained job-ready skills through Virtu-WIL while being connected with labor market partners. 

While new educational models and teaching methods can open new opportunities for students, they can often be a challenge for educators. That’s why Virtu-WIL and Simulation Canada also hosted a series of one-of-a-kind workshops to support educators embedding virtual simulation into educational programming.  

  • Over 100 college and institute educators had the opportunity to learn from world-leading experts in the field of virtual simulation pedagogy and to share best practices and strategies with each other. 

As we continue to strive towards SDG 4, Virtu-WIL is a testament to our collective commitment to providing quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

Virtu-WIL is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) through the Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative.