Gamification in thoracic surgical education: Using competition to fuel performance

Nahush A. Mokadam, Richard Lee, Ara A. Vaporciyan, Jennifer D. Walker, Robert J. Cerfolio, Joshua L. Hermsen, Craig J. Baker, Rebecca Mark, Lauren Aloia, Dan H. Enter, Andrea J. Carpenter, Marc R. Moon, Edward D. Verrier, James I. Fann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objectives In an effort to stimulate residents and trainers to increase their use of simulation training and the Thoracic Surgery Curriculum, a gamification strategy was developed in a friendly but competitive environment. Methods "Top Gun." Low-fidelity simulators distributed annually were used for the technical competition. Baseline and final video assessments were performed, and 5 finalists were invited to compete in a live setting from 2013 to 2015. "Jeopardy." A screening examination was devised to test knowledge contained in the Thoracic Surgery Curriculum. The top 6 2-member teams were invited to compete in a live setting structured around the popular game show Jeopardy. Results "Top Gun." Over 3 years, there were 43 baseline and 34 final submissions. In all areas of assessment, there was demonstrable improvement. There was increasing evidence of simulation as seen by practice and ritualistic behavior. "Jeopardy." Sixty-eight individuals completed the screening examination, and 30 teams were formed. The largest representation came from the second-year residents in traditional programs. Contestants reported an average in-training examination percentile of 72.9. Finalists reported increased use of the Thoracic Surgery Curriculum by an average of 10 hours per week in preparation. The live competition was friendly, engaging, and spirited. Conclusions This gamification approach focused on technical and cognitive skills, has been successfully implemented, and has encouraged the use of simulators and the Thoracic Surgery Curriculum. This framework may capitalize on the competitive nature of our trainees and can provide recognition of their achievements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1058
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • achievement
  • curriculum
  • internship and residency
  • knowledge bases
  • learning
  • motivation
  • thoracic surgery


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