Educational Gaming: The Future of Health Care
We've all heard the saying, "It's all fun and games until someone loses a limb!" But what if fun and games could save someone's limb? Or their life?
Natasha Latta, BSN, RN
Gaming has proven invaluable in education settings for years by improving concentration, creativity, memory, engagement, and so much more. But educational games are virtually nonexistent in nursing. I'm excited to share the MedEd Suite App, which accelerates how health care professionals and students can access, learn, and retain crucial information!
Nursing School and The Floor: A Daunting Task
Until experiencing nursing school firsthand, it’s impossible to fully understand how challenging it is to process, retain, and then apply all the required information. I can still feel the crush of endless study sessions spent desperately trying to understand and memorize volumes of material. Time spent studying meant time taken away from my family, which increased my stress. When I graduated, I thought the hardest work was behind me…hilarious, right?
I now work in a busy, understaffed ER located on a volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I wish I could say that after a decade I’ve mastered it all, but that’s just as laughable as thinking I was on easy street after graduation. Patient volume and complexity are exponential. Information is constantly evolving. Keeping sharp, current, and connected is a struggle. I’d love to brag that I’m that go-getter poring over references and journals but after a hard work week that feels like a month, the only thing I’m interested in is decompression and a good time.
Struggles Create Solutions
Here is how MedEd Game’s inception story unfolded:
I had just walked out of a room where the patient, upon learning I had to do a COVID swab, responded by pointing a finger gun at my head. Immediately after that my supervisor said I had to complete my required education, or I’d be taken off the schedule. I joyfully selected option two but was quickly informed that option one was my only choice. I bitterly slumped down at a computer to power click and grumble my way through seemingly infinite modules while pondering new career choices. I began thinking, “dang, this material is important, so why am I so bored?” Then I realized it was the delivery of the information that was sucking the life out of me. And then I thought, “I’m never going to remember this when I need it.” However, the a-ha moment where the solution revealed itself didn’t come until later.
Accelerated Learning through Gamification
Numerous studies reveal that gamification boosts memory and mood, so why not gamify health care education? But why stop there? Why not create the educational resource that I always wished for in nursing school and on the floor? MedEd Game is an incredibly versatile tool that uses innovative tutorials to propel understanding and games to accelerate retention. Neuroscience reveals that when we play games, the brain releases dopamine that acts as the brain’s “save button.” So, not only are games a fun way to learn, they’re also highly effective!
Gaming Our Way to Improved Health Outcomes
Educational gaming pushes us to excel and sharpen our minds while also giving the "fight or flight" part of our brains a much-needed break. Games allow for practice in non-stressful situations, so when the stressful moments arise, we are ready for them. Gaming allows us to take risks without consequences to boost our confidence, enjoyment, and problem-solving skills. When having fun while learning, we are better able to recall crucial information and make good decisions when faced with real-life emergencies.
Now friends, here’s where I share some deep secrets with you: I do a fair amount of battle with imposter syndrome and doubt. After all, health care is a serious business conducted by people with serious degrees. So, why does a ski n’ surf addict turned nurse entrepreneur think she can change the game? Furthermore, I’ve funded this venture completely from a nurses’ salary so not only do I have ‘skin in the game,’ I have vital organs on the table. And I’m not too proud to announce that I’ve spent more money and time figuring out how not to do things than moving forward.
Fear and doubt wash over me until I remember my four fundamentals: purpose, predecessors, loved ones, and preparation.
The book Built to Last explores the successful habits of the world’s most visionary and enduring companies. One thing these companies share is a purpose transcending profits and products. I’ve been ready to walk away from my business countless times, but I push on because I simply cannot abandon my purpose.
A steady diet of inspirational movies from Beyonce’s Homecoming to The Alpinist remind me what is possible with grit, heart, and determination. Reading about phenomenal people like Mae Jemison, Mary Eliza Mahoney, and Regina Benjamin reminds me that my challenges are relative playthings. More importantly, I’m emboldened because these game changers were also filled with doubt and fear but commitment to their purpose propelled them to awe-inspiring achievements.
Every entrepreneur needs a cheering squad. When I’m running dangerously low on motivation, I put out an SOS to my loved ones. The flood of positive energy refuels me and makes me accountable to something higher than myself. Am I really going to look my daughter and closest friends in the eyes and tell them that I just gave up? Never.
It has taken four years of sweat, tears, and revisions, but I will go to market with a product that I am definitively proud of regardless of its commercial success. I know that it is a phenomenal resource with massive potential. This resolute confidence allows me to withstand the countless and inevitable setbacks and failures.
The Future is Bright
I'm so thrilled to be a part of educational gaming in health care. I’m even more thrilled to announce that The MedEd Suite App is ready for beta-testing! The ANA NursePitch Innovation and Accelerator programs are an important part of empowering MedEd Game’s vision and message. It is humbling and inspiring to be part of ANA’s investment in the future of nursing.
We’re going to see amazing things happen through health care gaming and we'll save lives one game at a time!
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