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Experiencing COVID-19 Through Virtual Reality: How patients can teach us through their experiences

November 8, 2021

Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Time: 12 – 1 p.m. via Zoom (link will be provided upon registering)
Cost: Free
Registration required: Please register by emailing your name, title/profession, and organization to

This Patient as Educator online event features an innovative look into what has been learned from patient educators about COVID-19 through the development of virtual reality (VR) videos.

Patient partners and researchers will discuss a study developed to explore the use of VR videos aimed at helping clinicians understand the patient experience with COVID-19, as well as how the innovative VR tool, along with personal stories, can help promote empathy towards patients with COVID-19.


Dr. Heather Thomson

Heather Thomson, RN, PhD is an assistant professor, Teaching Stream and the director of the Master of Nursing Program at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. She holds a PhD in nursing with a diploma in Health Services and Policy Research, as well as a Master of Nursing from the University of Toronto. She obtained her Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Calgary. Heather has over 15 years of experience in the healthcare system with positions ranging from frontline nurse to leadership roles in the public and private sectors. Her interests include leadership, quality improvement, patient safety, simulation, innovation and technology.

Lisa Di Prospero

Lisa is the director for Practice-Based Research and Innovation & the Education Research Unit at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC). In 2017, she was appointed the vice-chair of the Research Ethics Board at SHSC. Previous to this appointment, she was the professional leader and manager of education and research for radiation therapy at the Odette Cancer Centre (since 2010). She is an assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology and associate member at the Institute of Medical Sciences, School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. She received her undergraduate and graduate degree in biology at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Rainbow and graduated from the Toronto-Sunnybrook School of Radiation Therapy in 1996. Throughout her professional career, Lisa has held a number of appointments in both research and education. Previous to joining Sunnybrook, she was a professor in the undergraduate Medical Radiation Sciences program at the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences/The University of Toronto (since 2001). She continues to teach at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Lisa has authored and co-authored numerous articles and continues to mentor and coach both intra- and inter- professional colleagues. Lisa was named the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences (JMIRS) in 2013 to 2019 and is currently Emeritus EIC, an international, peer-reviewed journal. Lisa currently serves on committees for both the College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario (CMRTO) and the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT).

Lorraine Graves

After taking time to raise a child and care for aging elders, Lorraine Graves returned to her vibrant career as a medical journalist and public speaker in British Columbia. Then COVID hit. During the first week of March 2020, she developed a mild cough and dry throat. She was later diagnosed with COVID and become more severely ill. Her recovery has been a long road, and Lorraine has gone from being bedridden, to regaining enough strength to be up for at least three hours a day. COVID and long COVID brought her into contact with many health care professionals, and she describes the scope of her treatment interactions as varying from the “skilled and marvellous to the ignorant and unkind”. This project gives Lorraine a chance to use both her skills as an educational broadcaster and her experience as a COVID/long COVID patient to encourage empathy in health care workers.