Video games could enhance med school education, students say

Medical students would like to use video games in med school, according to findings from a survey published online in BMC Medical Education. Virtually all of the students surveyed (98 percent) like the idea of using technology to enhance healthcare education; four in five think that video games could be educational.

The findings are perhaps not surprising, considering most med students are Millennials, that generational cohort who grew up with computers and video games. It's a group that reads less and is more comfortable in an image-rich environment than with text, the authors note.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) said they would use a multiplayer online healthcare simulation on their own time, if it helped them accomplish an important goal. Ninety percent said they would be inclined to use the multiplayer simulations if they helped hone patient interaction skills.

The survey was based on more than 200 responses from med students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Michigan who were polled between April and May 2007.

One can't help but wonder whether having more video games incorporated into their med school studies would change their attitudes toward such games. More than three-quarters of those surveyed said they enjoy video games because "they help me relax." Another 63 percent said they enjoy them because "they allow me to avoid studying."

Any serious medical game should both teach and be fun, the authors advise. They point to the failure of a multiplayer game that was designed to teach students about Elizabethan England that was scuttled soon after its release, because it was deemed not fun enough. The authors quote media expert Marshal McLuhan, who said that "it’s always been true that whatever pleases teaches more effectively."

To learn more:
- read the article in BMC Medical Education
- here's the CNET article
- see the HealthDay News article

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