Escape room participation proven beneficial for radiology residents

Escape rooms have gained popularity in recent years, putting participants in a “locked” environment and seeing if they have the creativity to find their way out. But could such an experience benefit radiology residents?

That’s exactly what the authors of a new study published in Academic Radiology wanted to explore. The team developed an escape room aimed at furthering radiology resident education with help from a Toronto-based game studio, Wero Creative.

“Residents are autonomous, self-directed, and goal-oriented,” wrote Kedar Jambhekar, MD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and colleagues. “They are motivated by the need to know and their readiness and desire to learn. Learning that is based on their life experiences and is relevant to their work environment is most highly valued. We designed our room and its challenges around interesting radiology knowledge and technical skills.”

The escape room included both mental puzzles and physical puzzles, with teams of four to six participants being sent in as a group. One challenge, for instance, involved knowing the names of imaging diagnoses based on a description and certain “buzzwords.” A full-sized skeleton prop was also used, with participants being tasked with answering various questions about muscles and anatomy. A “debriefing” period was also built into the process, allowing participants to discuss the experience as a group.

“This helped players learn from each other and relate the activity to the reality of their future lives,” the authors wrote.

Overall, the escape room was held at RSNA 2018 in Chicago 27 times, with 144 residents participating. Sixty-four percent of participants were male, and all of them were millennials born between 1982 and 2000. While it was the first time 45% of participants had experienced an escape room, all teams escaped. The shortest escape time was 27 minutes and 28 seconds, while the longest time was more than 58 minutes.

A post-RSNA survey with a response rate of 38.9% found that “overall enjoyment” received a 4.85 rating out of 5. Puzzles (41%), working as a team (35%) and the fun/novelty parts of the room (9%) were the most common answers listed by survey respondents as their favorite part of the experience.

“Players did not find the format to be stressful, nor would they prefer a didactic lecture to the interactive game,” the authors wrote. “In terms of motivation, they found the challenges interesting and the activity moderately increased their interest in radiology.”

Jambhekar et al. wrote that this format of education can be changed as necessary for a wide range of education levels. It can be made more challenging for upper level residents and faculty, for instance, or made more straightforward for younger residents.

“Our findings support the positive impact of gamification on the teaching/learning process for millennial learners in graduate medical education,” the team concluded. “It is feasible to create a portable, inexpensive escape room as a novel educational platform for radiology residents that promote learner engagement through collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.”