Let the games be­gin, med­i­cal stu­dents say

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

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.

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