Simulation lab introduces virtual learning

Connie Lindsay, simulation lab coordinator, adjusts the HTC Vive virtual reality headset for a student. The new VR lab allows medical students to see things they might never get to, such as the inside of the human heart.

By Stefanie Kirschke

Staff Writer

On a recent school field trip, medical program students engaged in a tour of the human body, from the inside. The Northeast Texas Community College medical program recently got a major upgrade to the simulation lab back in 2019 through the Jet Grant.

The grant allowed the college to purchase six HTC Vive virtual reality units. The upgrade has offered NTCC medical, EMT and paramedic students the ability to see things that they have never seen.

Connie Lindsay, simulation lab coordinator, said the VR system is one beneficial way that students can receive practice in a virtual setting. While any NTCC students can use the VR system, medical students are given top priority. 

“All health science students, that includes medical assistance, EMS, nursing, medical lab technician and physical therapy assistance, all of those can use the lab, but we also extend our VR to the rest of the campus as well,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay said she is looking for additional VR simulations that are used for purposes outside of health science. Even art students could virtually view famous paintings like they are strolling through an art gallery. If students are interested in using the system, they should talk with an instructor to see if the virtual training would be valuable for their studies.

If so, the instructor or the student can contact Lindsay for more information. 

One simulation that health science students can access allows them to virtually look inside a human heart. Cuyler Stephenson, a student in the paramedic program, said it was interesting to be able to see different parts of the heart and take a deeper look at the different chambers, the blood flow and the heartbeat. 

“It allows you to really get a good understanding of the [heart],” Stephenson said. 

With the VR system, students can respond to a 911 call without ever stepping foot into a real home. Students can virtually load a person onto a gurney and then lift them up into the ambulance. If students need to perform medical procedures on their virtual patient, they can that too. 

“This is actually really cool,” Matthew Kilgore, NTCC paramedic student said. ”It is cool that the school was able to do something like this.” 

Russell VanBibber, NTCC interim EMS program director, said the VR system is a useful tool that offers students to virtually interact with the inner workings of the human body. “I am excited to have the EMS, EMT and paramedic students get to learn through high fidelity simulation,” he said. “The virtual reality system gives them the opportunity to see inside the body systems. They learn what and why through lectures and labs. VR allows them to see how it affects the body as it happens.”

Due to Covid-19, some procedures have changed in the simulation lab. Only a few students at a time are allowed in the lab, and they are required to wear a mask and proper personal protective equipment. Lindsay said the virtual reality system is wiped down and cleaned after each use. For more information on the VR system, contact Lindsay at

Click HERE to watch an in-depth video about NTCC’s VR simulation system.