Eastern Michigan University nursing program receives grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to launch virtual reality experience to improve health equity

An instructor, wearing a virtual reality headset in front of a large monitor, teaches students in the classroom.

YPSILANTI - In an effort to address health inequities affecting Asian Americans, Eastern Michigan University’s nursing program received a $72,000 grant provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to develop clinical simulation tools including 360 degree videos and virtual reality simulation for nursing students to help improve patient care outcomes.

Led by EMU School of Nursing Professor and Director of Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies, Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu, the EMU school of nursing virtual reality program features simulations that provide hands-on experiences to observe obstacles in the physical environment and cultural beliefs and practices of individuals and families from Asian American communities.  

According to EMU’s School of Nursing Honors Advisor Valerie Pauli, “The project is designed to expand the nursing curriculum with advanced innovative teaching strategies and interactive learning opportunities while focusing on the social determinants of health, cultural awareness and health literacy.”  

“Nurses play a vital role in addressing the needs of the patients they serve,” Wu said. “This program allows nurses a chance to witness lived experiences beyond their own to improve the health outcomes for their patients. Innovative approaches such as this one can help nurses better understand the health needs of patients from different cultural backgrounds and ensure good health for all.” 

Wu serves as the principal investigator while EMU faculty members including Valerie Pauli, Kathryn Hughesdon, Jenni Hoffman, Meriam Caboral-Stevens, Linda Myler, Kathleen Seurynck and Huei Lee are involved in various aspects of this program. Currently, EMU nursing students have the opportunity to participate in the virtual reality experience as part of the community health course.

Experts say that virtual reality goes beyond just gaming and can help nursing students engage in the experience and embrace new ways to learn and interact.

“We hope that the nursing community in Michigan, as well as globally, will access the website for simulation materials we developed to help advance the profession,” said Wu.

For more information, please visit emich.edu/chhs/nursing/360-degree-difference/index.php 

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

December 01, 2021

Written by:
Lexie Stypelkoski

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher