Medical students 'raised on screens lack skills for surgery'

Medical students 'raised on screens lack skills for surgery'


Leading surgeon says lack of hobbies and creativity in schools has affected children’s practical abilities
New medical students have spent so much time on screens that they lack vital practical skills necessary to conduct life-saving operations, a leading surgeon has warned.
Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College London, said that a decline in hands-on creative subjects at school and practical hobbies at home means that students often do not have a basic understanding of the physical world.
Backing a campaign by educational thinktank the Edge Foundation to encourage more creative subjects in the national curriculum, Kneebone said spending hours engaged in virtual worlds was no substitute for experience in the real world.
“Partly it stops [students] being aware in three dimensions of what’s going on around them, because their focus is much narrower, but also it takes away that physical understanding you get by actually doing things,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “That has to be done in the real world with real stuff.”
Kneebone said there had been a “very serious knock-on effect” on practical skills among students since smartphones had become so popular.
He said: “We have noticed that medical students and trainee surgeons often don’t seem as comfortable with doing things with their hands … than they used to even perhaps five or 10 years ago.
“People are no longer getting the same exposure to making and doing [things] when they are at home, when they are school, as they used to.”
He claimed that cutting back on creative subjects at school had a negative impact on the tactile skills necessary for a career in medicine or science.
Kneebone said: “We are talking about the ability to do things with your hands, with tools, cutting things out and putting things together … which is really important in order to do the right thing either with operations, or with experiments. You need to understand how hard you can pull things before you do damage to them or how quickly you can do things with them before they change in some way.”
Kneebone said that by spending time online children were missing out on practical skills acquired from hobbies such as cooking, woodwork, playing a musical instrument or model making. He endorsed making Halloween jack-o’-lanterns as a start for budding surgeons.
He said: “Pumpkin carving is one example of using sharp instruments with great delicacy and precision on a hard surface with a soft inside to create something that you have got in your mind and then you have to make it happen.”


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