ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Could learning how to be a nurse using virtual reality help address a statewide shortage of nurses? The administration at Maria College is hoping so, with potentially hundreds of thousands of federal dollars coming in to fund the proposed program.

Artificial intelligence is part of so many critical technologies in our world today. Maria College wants to incorporate it into their nursing program, with a virtual reality simulator that mimics what it’s like to care for a patient in various scenarios.

“While we have a full simulation lab with mannequins, moving to virtual reality really gives a 360 view for students to be able to practice and gain confidence,” said Dr. Lynn Ortale, Maria College President.

Making Maria College a hub for this virtual learning was one of a number of “community project sites” submitted by Congressman Paul Tonko. If approved, the federal funds would support the purchase of the hardware, software, monitors, and other equipment needed for the program.

“You’re working in a virtual sense to develop your skillset and understand all the pressure, and responding to the pressure, without any damage done to a patient,” Tonko said.

Administration at Maria say having this technology at the school will provide students more opportunities to develop essential skills needed to care for patients, experiencing some scenarios they may not even encounter in a two-year nursing program clinical rotation.

“As healthcare needs expand, and institutions enroll more students in nursing programs, clinical placement rotations diminish, often with competition for limited placements, particularly with the advent of the coronavirus. Thus, additional opportunities for students to practice essential skills must be created,” reads a write-up on the program from the Maria College website.

Tonko expects that approved projects will be announced in December.