Singapore General Hospital shifts to gamified VR nurse training

Its nurses are now training to insert cannulas in virtual patients.

The Singapore General Hospital has started training its nurses in IV cannulation using VR technology.

A team of SGH nurses, together with Serious Games Asia and sensor solutions developer Microtube Technologies, developed an immersive gamified training module called IV NIMBLE (Nursing Innovation in Mobility-based Learning) to enhance nurses' training.

The module comprises a virtual patient avatar with which nurses can practice talking; a 3D-printed hand which mimics the texture of human skin; and a pressure sensor glove that gauges the pressure of cannulation. It also captures and presents data via an analytics dashboard for review.

First tried out six months ago by about 120 SGH nurses, IV NIMBLE is backed by a grant from the Institute for Adult Learning of the Singapore University of Social Science and the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medicine Innovation Institute Adoption Grant. 


SGH shifted to VR training to help its new nurses become more confident and more equipped in inserting IVs in patients. It noted that a typical IV training, which involves the insertion of a cannula into a silicone mannequin arm, can be daunting for nurses. This common procedure may take many nurses much time and training to master, it added.

The project team behind IV NIMBLE plans to improve the technology by creating 3D-printed hands with commonly known medical conditions and of the elderly. More patient avatars and scenarios are also coming to the programme. 

Future adaptations of IV NIMBLE will also provide VR training for other invasive procedures, such as venepuncture for blood collection and chest tube insertion.


Last year, more university hospitals across Asia started adopting VR to augment medical and nurse training. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, for example, tried out its Virtual Hospital learning system that simulates a real-life hospital ward. It has 11 games, five learning scenarios, and over 1,200 combinations of randomised situations and multiple choices. The Royal Mahidol University,  in Thailand, in partnership with Japanese VR provider Jolly Good, also started a VR programme for training students on ​​infectious disease treatment. Another Singaporean institution, the National Neuroscience Institute, tied up with VR medical content platform Kyalio to create neurosurgery training modules to help in the continuing education of their doctors and students who had to postpone their training during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Australia, first responder training company Real Response, with support from the Department of Defence, recently unveiled its VR offering called Virtual Tactical Combat Care, which conducts medical training of combat medics.


"Through IV NIMBLE, we hope new nurses, and even medical students needing to learn cannulation, will feel more confident and be better equipped with the skills to do so after training," said Andrea Choh, senior nurse manager at SGH, who also heads the IV NIMBLE project.