Let the games begin, medical students say
Video game enthusiasts may be lining up for “Madden NFL 11,” but in upcoming years, they might be just as eager to play interactive games about patient care. That’s according to researchers from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who surveyed more than 200 medical students and found, perhaps not surprisingly, that nearly all of them were open to some form of digital medical school curriculum.
That’s because the millennial generation—which most medical students belong to—can’t get enough technology, the authors say. They were raised with the Internet, they spend endless hours on Facebook and other social networking sites, and their daily texting rates can creep toward the triple digits.
“They read less and are more comfortable in image-rich environments than with text,” the authors say in the study. “Their clear preference is for active, first-person, experiential learning and a level of interactivity that is absent in traditional lectures, but vibrantly present in new media technologies.”
Perhaps even less surprising is the dramatic role gender played in participants’ responses. Males were far more likely than females to play video games and role-playing games. And although almost all of the respondents say they are open to a more technologically enhanced education—particularly for gaining skills in doctor-patient communication—many female respondents balked at the idea of incorporating games into course work.
According to researchers, that disparity might stem from the fact that video games are designed with males in mind, and are tailored to their cognitive strengths and “neural sex differences.” For instance, they say, while women are apt at tasks like identifying an object that has been moved, men are better at navigating through a maze. Outliers thinks these researchers have never been on a long car trip.
Just having fun or getting ready for a medical career? Medical students, especially male ones, say they’d like video games worked into their curriculum.