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ATD Blog

How Hospitals Are Using Games-Based Learning to Train Their Employees

Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Games have always been part of our culture not only because they’re enjoyable, but they also appeal to our competitive nature. They tap into our extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The right kind of game can improve our skills and help us learn while encouraging us to have fun. Game-based learning is the solution to our short attention spans and busy lives.

Healthcare professionals on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic deserve proper training and rewards. Professionals in the medical industry have used gamified training in hospitals with great success. Game-based learning is perfect for the healthcare industry because it:

  • Fits well into the hectic lifestyles of doctors and medical staff
  • Hooks learners in a way textbooks can’t
  • Refines fine motor skills

Game-Based Training for Current and Returning Providers

Because doctors and nurses are inundated with the number of COVID-19 Omicron cases, hospitals are having difficulty handling patients suffering from regular ailments like high blood pressure, heart disease, and broken bones.

To address this, hospitals are bringing back medical professionals from retirement to help with the workload. Before going to work, these professionals undergo VR training to refresh their skills and prepare them for the job.

In addition, CAE Healthcare Academy developed a COVID-19 simulation to train current and returning healthcare professionals from different fields in the evolving safety protocols necessary.

Surgical Preparation at Beth Israel Hospital in New York

Dr. James Rosser Jr. keeps a Sony PlayStation and Xbox at Beth Israel Hospital in New York. Although these two gaming devices are great for destressing during downtime, they serve a deeper purpose: to help him prepare for laparoscopic surgery.

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Laparoscopy is frequently performed on gall bladders, colons, and other organs that require a tiny incision. Because a surgeon’s hand can’t fit into the incision, robotic controls are used to perform the surgery.

When Dr. James Rosser Jr. was in medical school, he noticed that students who didn’t play video games were having a harder time learning intricate motor skills than those who did. In 2002, he helped with a study on the connection between video games and surgical skills which found:

  • Surgeons who played video games three hours a week made 37 percent fewer mistakes in surgery.
  • Those who played video games completed their tasks 27 percent faster than those who did not.
  • Surgeons with high scores in video games (the top third) made 47 percent fewer mistakes during surgery.

So each time Dr. James Rosser Jr. prepares for surgery, you can find him playing video games to improve his work performance.

The Military’s Field-Medic Simulator

For years, the military has been training its medical staff with a simulator called STATCARE (Simulation Technology Applied to Trauma Care).

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STATCARE is a video game in which virtual soldiers are injured in battle and require medical care. Players must respond thoughtfully to save as many lives as possible. The virtual patients respond to medication and show vital signs such as blood pressure and heartbeat as if they were real, increasing the value of the simulation.

McGill Medical Students and the Deteriorating Patient Smartphone AppFourth-year students at McGill take a course called ERRAD (Early Recognition of and Response to the Acutely Deteriorating Patient).

To prepare them for work in the field, Dr. Jeff Wiseman developed a smartphone-based app called Deteriorating Patient. This app puts students undergoing training in a virtual situation where they must suddenly stabilize a patient’s vitals, allowing them to experience how they might emotionally respond in stressful situations before they enter residency.

Mercy Medical Center and Games for Nurse Training

Mercy Medical Center uses a collection of games to help nurses better respond to real-life situations. These games include creating avatars, earning badges, and completing challenges to earn a certificate. All new nurses at the Mercy Medical Center must complete the game-based nurse training before starting work.

Game-based learning is gaining popularity with hospitals and medical schools across the country. It makes training more fun, engaging, and more effective.

About the Author

Stephen Baer is cofounder of the Game Agency, an INC Magazine Best Workplaces Company. He is a monthly contributor to Forbes.com and a regular speaker at EdTech conferences. For 15 years Baer has been creating award-winning games to educate and activate audiences for new-employee onboarding, sales and product training, leadership development, safety, security, compliance, systems and processes, customer service, and many other topics. He has also helped shape the education industry and disrupt traditional learning methods with S.T.E.M, FinLit, and Social Skills learning games that have been deployed in more than 20,000 schools.

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