Nurse-midwifery grant uses virtual clinic to prepare healthcare providers

Students in nurse-midwifery, medicine and other health-related disciplines at East Carolina University will team up in a virtual clinic to improve women’s health through a $1.098 million federal grant awarded to the College of Nursing.

The three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration is the largest in the College of Nursing’s history. Dr. Pamela Reis, assistant professor of nurse-midwifery education in the College of Nursing, will lead the project.

The project aims to improve primary care of women by using a web-based virtual clinic, a format similar to the popular Second Life virtual world. In the virtual clinic, students maneuver through an online clinic to care for pretend patients. The virtual clinic exposes students to a variety of conditions and diagnoses that they might not see in a real clinical setting during their education.  Much like a simulation laboratory, this model helps students learn to make treatment decisions in a safe environment. The project addresses our goals to use technology to enhance education.

One of the interesting features of the grant is a Mini Business Institute to teach business skills that students need to build a successful medical practice. The institute, a joint effort between the ECU College of Nursing and College of Business since 2005, will be offered for the first time to ECU obstetrics/gynecology and family medicine resident physicians, and interested students and faculty in the health sciences division.

Healthcare depends on teamwork and collaboration between care providers. This grant brings nurses, doctors and other health team members together. This combination is a win-win for patients.

Sylvia T. Brown, EdD, RN, CNE
Dean and Professor
East Carolina University College of Nursing