Arnav Gupta carries a heavy course load as a third-year student in the Faculty of Medicine, so winding down with a game of Legend of Zelda always provides relief from the rigorous of study. But Zelda may be helping improve his surgical education, too, as Gupta and a team of researchers from the University of Toronto found in a paper they recently published in the medical journal Surgery.
Given the limited availability of simulators and the high accessibility of video games, medical students interested in surgical specialties should know that video games may be valuable adjunct training for enhancing their medical education, especially in surgical specialties where it can be critical." Arnav Gupta
Gupta's findings were deciphered from a systematic review of 16 studies involving 575 participants.
"Particularly, in robotic surgery, being a video gamer was associated with improvements in time to completion, the economy of motion, and overall performance. In laparoscopic surgery, video games-based training was associated with improvement in duration on certain tasks, the economy of motion, accuracy, and overall performance," explains Gupta, who has been a gamer since age 8.
This study builds on past reviews and is the first to focus on a specific medical student population where this style of training could be feasibly implemented. Their timely study found some of the most beneficial games for students of robotic surgery and laparoscopy were: Super Monkey Ball, Half-Life, Rocket League, and Underground. Underground is purposely designed to assist medical students with their robotic surgery training via a video game console.
"I'm not joking when I say that games such as Fortnite have the potential to enhance those necessary movements, providing stronger motivational components and in a low stakes environment."
Reports suggest 55 percent of university students are gamers and enjoy proficiency with video consoles. Yet, many medical students don't admit to owning and using a gaming console.
Surgical skills training is an essential part of medical education, as it allows medical students to gain the necessary knowledge and experience to perform surgical procedures safely and effectively. Traditionally, surgical skills training has involved observation and practice in the operating room, but this approach has some limitations, such as limited access to surgeries and high costs. Video games are emerging as an alternative approach for surgical skills training. This essay will explore how video games can help improve surgical skills training for medical students.
Benefits of Video Games for Surgical Skills Training
One of the primary benefits of using video games for surgical skills training is that they provide a realistic simulation of surgical procedures. High-quality video games use advanced graphics and physics engines to create virtual surgical environments that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. This realism allows medical students to practice surgical skills in a safe and controlled environment, without the risk of injury to patients.
Feedback and Assessment
Another benefit of video games for surgical skills training is that they provide immediate feedback and assessment. As medical students play through the game, the game can track their performance and provide feedback on areas that need improvement. This feedback can help medical students identify their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to focus their training on areas that need improvement.
Video games also offer the advantage of repeatable practice. Traditional surgical skills training is often limited by the availability of surgeries and patients. In contrast, video games can be played repeatedly, allowing medical students to practice surgical skills as often as they need to improve their performance. This repeatable practice can also help medical students build confidence in their skills, which can translate to improved performance in the operating room.
Another benefit of video games for surgical skills training is that they are cost-effective. Traditional surgical skills training can be expensive, requiring the use of expensive equipment and facilities. In contrast, video games require only a computer and software, which is much more cost-effective. This cost-effectiveness can make surgical skills training more accessible to medical students and institutions with limited resources.
Challenges and Limitations of Video Games for Surgical Skills Training
Despite the many benefits of video games for surgical skills training, there are also some challenges and limitations. These include:
Lack of Real-World Experience
One of the primary limitations of video games for surgical skills training is that they lack real-world experience. While video games can provide a realistic simulation of surgical procedures, they cannot replicate the complexities and unpredictability of real surgical environments. Real-world experience is still essential for developing the judgment and decision-making skills required for surgical practice.
Limited Skill Transfer
Another challenge of video games for surgical skills training is that they have limited skill transfer. While medical students may develop proficiency in surgical skills through video games, these skills may not transfer to real-world surgical environments. Real-world surgical environments are complex and unpredictable, and require skills beyond those developed through video game training.
Need for Validation
Another challenge of video games for surgical skills training is the need for validation. There is a need to ensure that video games are an effective tool for surgical skills training, and that they can effectively prepare medical students for real-world surgical practice. More research is needed to validate the effectiveness of video games for surgical skills training and to develop best practices for their use.
In recent years, there have been several studies that have explored the effectiveness of video games for surgical skills training. One study published in the Journal of Surgical Education found that medical students who played a surgical simulation game had significantly higher scores on a laparoscopic skills test compared to a control group that did not play the game. Another study published in the Journal of Endourology found that medical students who played a video game that simulated ureteroscopy had significantly higher scores on a skills test compared to a control group that did not play the game.
These studies demonstrate that video games can be an effective tool for surgical skills training. By providing a realistic simulation of surgical procedures, video games can help medical students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to perform surgeries safely and effectively. Additionally, video games can provide immediate feedback and assessment, allowing medical students to identify areas that need improvement and focus their training on those areas.
Video games can also be used to supplement traditional surgical skills training. Medical students can use video games to practice their skills outside of the operating room, allowing them to gain more experience and confidence before working with real patients. Additionally, video games can be used to introduce medical students to new surgical techniques and procedures, allowing them to become familiar with these techniques before they are used in real surgeries.
In conclusion, video games have the potential to revolutionize surgical skills training for medical students. By providing a realistic simulation of surgical procedures, video games can help medical students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to perform surgeries safely and effectively. Additionally, video games can provide immediate feedback and assessment, allowing medical students to identify areas that need improvement and focus their training on those areas. While video games cannot replace real-world surgical experience, they can be a valuable tool for supplementing traditional surgical skills training. As technology continues to advance, video games will likely become an increasingly important part of surgical skills training for medical students. However, more research is needed to validate the effectiveness of video games for surgical skills training and to develop best practices for their use. Overall, video games have the potential to improve the quality of surgical practice and benefit patients around the world.