60-Second Science

Video Gameplaying Surgeons Perform Better On Skills Test

A new study found that surgeons and surgical residents with a history of playing video games for three hours or more per week performed significantly better on a standard surgical skills test than their nonplaying colleagues.

Given a choice of surgeons, you might actually want the one sitting in the hospital lounge playing video games.  Because such goofing off might be good training.  A study just reported in the February issue of Archives of Surgery found that cutters who played video games did better on a standardized surgery test.

The study looked at 33 surgeons and surgical residents doing a course called the Rosser Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills and Suturing Program.  That program scores surgeons based on the time it takes them to do some simulated surgery techniques and the number of errors they make.  Participants were rated and then those ratings were compared with the surgeons’ reports about how much time they spent playing video games. 

Turned out that surgeons with a history of three or more hours of video game playing per week made 37 percent fewer errors and were 27 percent faster than non players.  So you might indeed want a video game player to close that tracheoesophageal fistula.  But if you want to be a surgeon, remember, don’t spend so much time on the X-Box that you flunk your MCATS.   

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