Gamification is the art of taking elements of traditional games and applying them to a traditionally non-game setting — medical schools, for example. Along with classroom and book learning, medical schools are beginning to embrace approaches like online quizzes, virtual reality lessons, and even teamwork-focused escape rooms.

These gamification approaches may have benefits that supplement those of traditional classroom learning, such as serving as motivational tools for students, encouraging teamwork, and allowing students who prefer to study material a little at a time to test their knowledge as they go. In recent years, the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine released an online game called Kaizen, which students can use to quiz themselves. By working independently to earn “badges” or by competing against classmates, the goal of the game environment is to encourage students to achieve. Students can also work together to earn points, facilitating communication and teamwork.

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Another approach geared directly at encouraging teamwork is the escape room. Residents and faculty from Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia shared their escape room experience with the AMA Wire. The escape room served as a nonclinical, fun way for the group to foster teamwork skills — a key requirement cited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Additionally, it encouraged multitasking and effective leadership, both crucial for the emergency setting for which the residents were training.

Emergency medical training has also undergone gamification at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Clinical instructor Henry A. Curtis, MD, created a virtual reality experience that simulates a pediatric casualty care point. Throughout the virtual reality exercise, students are presented with various intervention options to carry out the narrative. After making a choice, users can see what was done in the field and compare those actions with their choices. This allows the students to experience a staged emergency situation and practice decision making in an interactive environment.

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With the gamification of medical education, students have the chance to use interactive, entertaining education tools. These nontraditional education methods can facilitate skills such as teamwork and decision making and can assist with studying and learning material outside of the traditional classroom setting.


Henry TA. 3 ways medical schools are embracing gamification. AMA Wire. August 24, 2018. Accessed August 28, 2018.