$850,000 in Funding Awarded for New Nursing School Technology from National Science Foundation

Intravenous (IV) needle insertion is a practice that many medical professionals learn and need to master. A new project in the works at Kent State will help nursing students improve their skills with cutting-edge technology. 


Photo of Kwangtaek Kim, PhD
Jeremy Jarzembak

Kwangtaek Kim, Ph.D., professor of computer science and principal investigator of the project, Jeremy Jarzembak, MSN, senior lecturer in the College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of the project, and Robert Clements, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences and co-principal investigator of the project, John Dunlonsky, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Jennifer Shanoltzer, MSN, and Ann James, MSN, senior lecturers in the College of Nursing, are joining forces to develop technology using haptics and mixed reality to let students practice inserting needles in a controlled environment and investigate whether controlled variability in practice (disuse theory) improves needle insertion skills.

Kim’s work focuses on the haptics portion of this project, Clements’ involves the mixed reality portion and Jarzembak provides the nursing expertise, having worked for over 17 years as an RN in the intensive care unit he now teaches nursing students. 

James and Shanoltzer will support Jarzembak in providing nursing experience. Meanwhile, Dunlonsky, expert in learning science, will provide knowledge to understand the causes of improved learning in hand-eye skills as well as new insight into effective learning technology, which may be used to improve learning in similar settings or be transformative to other fields. 


Robert Clements Photograph

“That is what is interesting to me, as far as this particular project’s goals, is the multidisciplinary nature,” Clements said. “I think to get people with these ideas together is what interests me because you are allowing us to think of something from different viewpoints.”

Haptics, or the technological capability that allows for the user to experience touch and motion, is an important factor being implemented throughout this research project. 

“Haptics focuses on the sense of touch, and the device interface allows you to touch anything you want,” Kim said.“Meanwhile, mixed reality is the visually oriented interface, and you see virtual content through that device, along with what you are looking at.”

“My role in the development of the project is to basically generate an infrastructure where we can use what Kim has developed in haptics on many different devices to kind of make it usable on a cell phone or other devices for visualization,” Clements said.

This grant-funded project has great potential to turn the haptics and mixed-reality into a seamless experience that will allow nursing students to see and feel the synthetic arm that they are practicing IV needle insertion on. 

Also, the technology has the potential to allow for practicing on different skin types, tattoos, dehydrated patients and more. These scenarios would allow nursing students to better prepare for hurdles they may face in the field. 

“It will offer students different types of variabilities that they might come across in the field, but they get to practice it in a safe environment over and over again until they achieve mastery,” Jarzembak said.

This technology could change the way IV insertion is taught.

“We are hoping this product is going to revolutionize the way that we actually teach and train students, and hopefully it will produce better outcomes for patients because our students will be more proficient in this skill,”  Jarzembak said.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and will last for three years, starting in September 2021 and continuing through August 2024. 

Learn more about the Kent State College of Nursing.

Learn more about the Computer Science Department.

Learn more about the Department of Biological Sciences

POSTED: Tuesday, February 1, 2022 08:09 AM
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2023 10:36 AM
Austin Monigold