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Video games serve as useful tools for prospective surgeons

When one thinks of the qualities of a skilled surgeon, many things come to mind.

Calm, cool, collected, smart, brilliant and focused are some of the most common descriptions, but above all is dexterous. Dexterity, however, is a quality that takes a generous amount of time to finely tune. It is also something that not everyone can do at a highly professional level and, even if they can, they may not know how to sharpen those skills.

A very good friend of mine that is a physician asked me what I might be interested in doing. I had mentioned the idea of specializing in surgery and was quite taken by the question that he quickly shot back. “Do you play a lot of video games?” It struck me as very odd coming from a respected physician, assuming the correct answer would be, “No.”

Admittedly, it was the truthful answer on my part but also not the correct answer for someone seriously considering a career as a surgeon.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 2007 on the topic of how playing video games translates to surgeons performing laparoscopic surgery. The researchers had noticed that younger surgeons and residents were gradually performing at a higher ability than their predecessors.

The subjects were all from the Rosser Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills and Suturing program. The surgeons were given three different games to play and were then administered a series of surveys to determine their past usage of video games and current playtime, as well as level of surgical training that they have undergone, years in practice and the number of surgeries that they had performed.

The results had shown that those surgeons that played video games for three or more hours a week exhibited 37 percent fewer errors as well as a 27 percent faster completion time. These results are fantastic news for the 94 percent of adolescents that spend on average nine hours a week playing video games.

The way technology is heading in regards to its influence on medicine, robotically-controlled surgical tools will become more and more common as time goes on. This correlates with the direction of cooperative online video gaming.

As more and more people engage in online gaming, it will lead to more man hours being spent with a controller in hand subconsciously honing the skills to potentially become the one of the world’s most highly-skilled surgeons.

It is not justifiable for me to say that it is necessary to toss one’s social life to the side and shack up in a dark room all day playing Zombies on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 in order to have a shot at following your dreams of saving lives, in a minimally invasive fashion. Keeping your hands away from harm is exponentially more important than playing with joysticks. Typing, playing piano, making o’s and wrist extension are all fine alternatives to spending hours on the Xbox.

Dan Maloney is a sophomore studying biological science and a columnist for The Post. Do you know of any studies that Dan should know about? Email him at

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