BHSU Expands Learning Spaces with Realistic Immersion Rooms

Dr. Cheryl Scott demonstrates an Immersion Room at BHSU.

Earlier this summer, Baptist Health Sciences University launched two new learning spaces called Immersion Rooms, one in the nursing building and one in the collaboration building. This immersive learning experience is unique to Baptist locally and is the only of its kind in the tristate area.

The space allows for a safe, low-stakes learning environment for future health care workers. Dr. Cheryl Scott, assistant professor and interprofessional simulation coordinator with a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) certification; Dr. Cathy Stepter, dean of nursing; and Dr. Angel Boling, program chair of undergraduate nursing, brought the immersion room concept to Baptist University.

With the space, professors can stage almost any scenario imaginable for students – the back of an ambulance, a home with barking dogs, a day care or a bus. This experience forces students to think critically about their surroundings with disturbances such as potential risks and tripping threats.

“Health care happens everywhere, not just in an organized, contained hospital or clinic setting,” explained Dr. Boling.

The room can also be set up to look like actual Baptist facilities, such as a surgery suite at Baptist DeSoto, labor and delivery at Baptist Women’s or the ICU at Baptist Memphis. With this feature, professors hope that the transition to real-world Baptist spaces will be even more seamless for their students.

“We are meeting students where they are,” said Dr. Scott. “During the early stages of COVID-19, we had to be creative, and the idea for Immersion Rooms came from that time. Our students had to keep learning, but we couldn’t safely access hospitals and clinics for several months. Now we have a way to bring the space to our classroom in a safe and educational way.”

The rooms can reach all the senses. The walls have hot spots that students can push for a quiz, such as finding all the errors in a hospital room or surgery suite. The audio is consistent with the environment, like traffic on the bus or doorbells ringing or dogs barking in the home, forcing students to block out ambient noise that isn’t necessary to the care delivered. Instructors also have props they can add into the room to simulate a messy house, a busy bus or a hectic office.

“The Immersion Rooms allow students to learn the way they want to learn, through gaming and technology,” said Dr. Boling. “This learning experience engages our students, teaching them how to think critically in an interactive space.”

The space can also help prepare for the worst-case scenario.

“We can play out a disaster at the hospital or a work site with this technology,” added Dr. Scott.

Baptist University will be filming at metro-Memphis Baptist facilities during the coming months to integrate real-space videos into their Immersion Room settings while continuing to use the spaces they already have filmed.