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School of Health Research

Jason Thrift, Ph.D


Assistant Professor
School of Nursing
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
Faculty Profile


Jason R. Thrift is an Assistant Professor at the Clemson University School of Nursing with 10 years of experience in nursing education. He earned his Bachelor’s (’01) and Master’s (’11) from the Clemson University School of Nursing. He earned his PhD in Nursing from Mercer University (’22) with a dissertation entitled Nursing Student Perceptions of Presence in a Virtual Learning Environment: A Qualitative Description Study. His current research interests include virtual reality simulation for patient treatment modalities and student nurse education. He is a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE), making him well versed in innovations of simulation used in the education of student nurses. He is an affiliate member of the research team for the Clemson University Virtual Reality and Nature (VRN) Lab through Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTM) and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health Research (CAMHR) through the Psychology Department. He is currently researching virtually reality interventions for patients and student nurses. He is a Co-PI on a Prisma Health Seed Grant entitled Tandem VR: Synchronized Nature-Based Experiences in Virtual Reality for Hospice Patients and their Caregivers. This grant investigates the outcomes of having a dyad of a hospice patient their caregiver interacting together in a virtual nature environment. He is also on a HRSA Grant entitled SET-UP: SET-ting nurses up for rural and Underserved Populations. One aspect of this grant establishes the use of virtual reality simulation for student nurse education within the School of Nursing at Clemson.

How their research is transforming health care

Dr. Thrift believes the research he is doing currently on virtual reality is transformational. Virtual Reality for a long time had not been used in the education of student nurses, and minimal use for patient interventions. The COVID-19 Pandemic created a paradigm shift in research and education however, opening the door for virtual platforms to take center stage. Virtual platforms offer a way to interact in an environment that is cost effective, mobile, and realistic to the user. Providing a patient a chance to see a place they have never seen before but are now limited by a serious illness is a means of fulfilling their dreams. Patients with debilitating medical conditions like cancer, heart abnormalities, or end-of-life concerns can find an outlet through virtual reality experiences that were not obtainable years ago. Student nurses want to experience realistic simulations that help them gain knowledge for the care of patients and transfer that knowledge readily. Virtual Reality can provide an avenue to achieve this and help with shortages of clinical placements. Together, these two aspects of patient care and student learning provide a means for virtual reality to plug the gap and allow for pleasant transitions or robust learning.

Health research keywords

Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality Simulation, Extended Reality, Simulation, Informatics, Artificial Intelligence, Hospice and Palliative Care Services, Mental Health, Medical-Surgical Nursing

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College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences | 116 Edwards Hall