Ultimate Medical Academy Teaches Empathy, Sensitivity Through Virtual Reality at ‘Spark Summit’ Conference for Healthcare Employers

The nonprofit higher education institution hosted more than 40 industry partner attendees at the 5th annual Spark Summit.

Spark Summit guests kicked off the conference from a virtual amphitheater which allowed them to enjoy some of the beautiful sites downtown Tampa has to offer.
Spark Summit guests kicked off the conference from a virtual amphitheater which allowed them to enjoy some of the beautiful sites downtown Tampa has to offer.
Spark Summit guests kicked off the conference from a virtual amphitheater which allowed them to enjoy some of the beautiful sites downtown Tampa has to offer.

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA), a nonprofit higher education institution with the mission of equipping and empowering students to excel in healthcare careers, hosted more than 40 industry partner attendees at the 5th annual Spark Summit. Each year, the Summit brings together healthcare leaders from across the nation who partner with UMA to match graduates to much-needed healthcare roles within their organizations. Summit participants get to connect, share achievements, and gain new insights about trends in healthcare education, recruitment and professional development. This year’s Summit looked different than usual due to social distancing measures and travel restrictions, and due to a new and unique conference element – virtual reality (VR).

“VR has been a buzz-term for decades but in the last five years, it has really begun to emerge in practice, and education is a key area of opportunity,” said Geordie Hyland, UMA’s Executive Vice President. “Over the next decade, emerging technologies are expected to play a significant role in the transformation of education. The Spark Summit is giving UMA the chance to showcase some of our new VR learning experiences which are available now and were designed to help Healthcare employers upskill their workforces.”

During the 2020 Spark Summit, attendees donned VR goggles first to ‘meet and greet’ each other during an opening session hosted in a virtual downtown Tampa amphitheater and then to participate in empathy training vignettes.

Empathy and sensitivity are critical skills in healthcare – driving patient satisfaction, compliance and trust, which are good for patient health outcomes as well as a company’s success.

“UMA has more than a decade of experience in online learning, and the circumstances of this year presented an opportunity to share our expertise with partners in a new way,” said April Neumann, UMA’s Senior Vice President of Career Services. “Empathy is a vital skill for all industries that interact with customers and patients, especially healthcare. We wanted to provide a unique and meaningful VR experience that was educational while also being impactful.” 

The training vignettes were created to be as realistic as possible, drawing on real-world experiences that patient-facing healthcare workers encounter working in a retail environment as a pharmacy technician, or even in a work-from-home environment supporting open enrollment for healthcare insurance organizations. The environments themselves were also crafted to be as realistic as possible, from the items present on the pharmacy counter to the number of screens an employee would have in a typical work-from-home position. Summit participants got to play the role of a healthcare worker in the VR

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