Are up-and-coming surgeons dextrous enough?

  • Published: November 08, 2018
  • Author: Sarah Sellars, Inspire MediLaw

Professor Roger Kneebone has recently claimed that many of the younger generation now joining the medical profession do not have the learned dexterity of their predecessors.

Surgery students "losing dexterity to stitch patients" ~ BBC News, 30 October 2018

While this is, in part, attributable to the increased use of computer games and general screen time, our consumer-driven society means that we throw things away instead of acquiring the skills to fix or mend them.

In schools and colleges, as a result of government targets, our young people are encouraged to strive for high grades in mainstream academic subjects, to the detriment of soft skills such as musical, artistic and technical prowess.

As a result of spending too much time 'swiping' screens, argues Professor Kneebone, medical students lack "tactile general knowledge". As a result, they struggle to handle materials with confidence, for example when suturing patients.

"Video games made me a better surgeon" ~ BBC News, 31 October 2018

Professor Kneebone's views have caused some consternation!
Many in the surgical profession have responded with examples of how their enthusiasm for video games has given them skills others lack. They point out that gaming requires excellent hand-eye coordination, lightning-fast responses and good control of instruments from a remote position.
The Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons asserts that the necessary skills for surgery can be taught. It's her view that practise will bring the perfection required, regardless of the individual's background.
We note that the rebuttals of Professor Kneebone's views mostly focus on the techniques required during surgery, but not many have offered examples of how their sewing skills are up to scratch before they start medical school.
Is there something to the professor's claims after all? Does this have an impact on senior surgeons training their juniors? What do you think? We'd love to know.

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