The School of Nursing, Ohio University GRID lab employees and an Ohio Medicaid Technical Assistance and Policy Program grant turned an interprofessional classroom simulation into an educational 360-degree video about Narcan, a drug used to combat opioid overdoses. 

Sherleena Buchman, an assistant professor of nursing, came up with the idea for the original simulation. 

“The ultimate goal is that we save a life — you know that’s what we want to do as nurses and I thought it’s not just nurses that can save a life, it is anybody,“ Buchman said. “So, this entire simulation is created for the layperson.” 

After one of her classes ran the simulation, she wanted to showcase their work by holding an event so others could also witness the importance of Narcan to break down some of the stigma that surrounds it.

“In nursing, we have a history of doing simulation, bringing things to life to enhance clinical judgement and critical thinking,” Buchman said. 

Jake Morgan, a senior studying integrated media and a GRID lab employee, said the main purpose of turning the simulation into a virtual reality project was to make people aware of how serious the opioid epidemic is, especially in Ohio. 

Narcan only targets the opioid reactants in the blood and in the brain, so it’s always better to use Narcan even if someone is unsure if the person has truly overdosed on an opioid, Morgan said.

“Sometimes if you can’t help from one angle, you look another way,” Buchman said. “And while providing education on how to administer Narcan and how to call for help might not be the solution to stopping people from taking the opioid, it is a solution to saving a life until we can get to that next cure, that next piece that needs to happen.” 

Buchman said she and GRID lab employee Eric Williams chose to use virtual reality for the project because it was the best way to make the simulation more immersive, real and meaningful to those watching. 

With a headset used to watch 360-degree videos, the viewer can look around the room and see everything. They can see what is under the bed, what is on the walls, who walks by in the hallway and more. 

“Virtual reality puts the user in the middle of the scenario, allowing them in-person experience without actually putting someone in danger,” Mitchell Cook, a junior studying integrated media production who is also a camera operator and GRID lab crew member, said in an email. “It is one of the most real and influential ways for someone to experience something and learn something regarding specific situations without actually being a part of it.” 

The video is in the completion stage as they are waiting for approval from the Institutional Review Board to do research, Buchman said. Next, they would like to hold some viewings and have focus groups to get feedback about how it impacts people and if it increases knowledge levels. 

After getting approval and receiving feedback, they then want to make a second video geared toward providers. 

In acute care settings, like a hospital, the staff is usually well-trained because of experience working in the emergency room. Home health care nurses and clinic nurses don’t get the same experiences as hospital nurses, so Buchman said she would like to make another video geared toward that specific audience. 

Buchman is now working on getting headsets of her own so when people come to her to see the video, it will be more accessible. The video is between seven and eight minutes long, and those participating in a focus group would be asked to stay back for 15 additional minutes to answer questions. 

“Not everyone has to participate in the research,“ Buchman said. “It is more important to me that people know how to help save somebody’s life.”