Surgical trainees who were put on a four week programme of gaming playing Wii tennis or table tennis and Half-Life [a ‘shoot em up’ game] did considerably better at key hole surgery using laparoscopes than those who had not taken part! [University of Rome- published in the Journal PLOS One]
A laparoscopy is a type of surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to access the inside of the abdomen and pelvis without having to make large incisions in the skin. It is also known as keyhole surgery. Robotic surgery is another rapidly expanding field in surgery. In this robots such as the ‘Da Vinci’ robot are used to achieve precision in intricate surgery that could not be obtained by a human. The robot is controlled by a surgeon using controls which look very similar to those of a PlayStation. [See my book Medical School Interviews The Knowledge – developments in surgery p43-44 for further details].
In the past the only way you improved your skill as a surgeon was to practise operating. It was said that you had ‘to ruin a hat full of eyes’ before you really attained competence as an ophthalmic surgeon. Obviously this is a big downside of surgical learning. Over the last few years plastic models and ‘dummies’ have become available; although these are improving in quality they are rarely authentic and the better ones are very expensive. So the authors of this study rightly suggest that the Wii could be a ‘helpful, inexpensive and entertaining part of the training of the young laparoscopist.’
Should you boast about your gaming capabilities on your Personal Statement? Perhaps writing ‘My dedication to a future career in surgery meant I play Call of Duty for at least two hours a day and I have achieved level 55’? Perhaps not just yet but in future years, who knows!