Medical students 'lack dexterity for surgery'

Surgeons at work
by Nik Taylor | 30 Oct 2018

Lack of time spent on creative hobbies blamed

Medical students struggle with the skills to stitch and sew up patients because they spend so little time using their hands, says a professor of surgery.

Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College, says that a strong focus on academic study means young people have increasingly little time for creative and practical hobbies.

"It is a concern of mine and my scientific colleagues that whereas in the past you could make the assumption that students would leave school able to do certain practical things - cutting things out, making things - that is no longer the case," Kneebone told the BBC. "We have students who have very high exam grades but lack tactile general knowledge."

The professor says that, over the past decade, he has seen declining levels of such manual dexterity in his students, suggesting that a rise in smartphone usage could also be to blame.  

"A lot of things are reduced to swiping on a two-dimensional flat screen," he says.

 “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 when they are at home, when they are school, as they used to.”

The professor is backing a campaign by educational thinktank the Edge Foundation for more creativity in the curriculum.

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