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Gamification and Virtual Reality in Medical Education and Related Healthcare Professions

Guest Editors:
Tobias Raupach: Institute for Medical Education, University of Bonn, Germany
Thomas C. Sauter: Department of Emergency Medicine, Inselspital, University of Bern, Switzerland
Daniel Tolks: Medical School Hamburg, Germany

Submission Status: Closed   |   Submission Deadline: 30 January 2024


BMC Medical Education welcomed submissions to our Collection on Gamification and Virtual Reality in medical education and healthcare professions. This collection seeks to identify pivotal principles underlying the effective use of these technologies. Original research testing hypotheses based on these principles and rooted in learning psychology will be included. The principal aim of this collection is to produce a reliable and valid knowledge base on gamification elements and virtual reality applications that facilitates transfer of principles and solutions across the entire spectrum of healthcare professional education.

Meet the Guest Editors

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Prof. Tobias Raupach: Institute for Medical Education, University of Bonn, Germany

Tobias Raupach, ME, MME graduated from Göttingen Medical School in 2004 and completed specialty training as a cardiologist in 2012. From 2015 onwards, he was Head of the Division of Medical Education at Göttingen University. In 2020, he was appointed Head of the Institute for Medical Education at Bonn University. His research in medical education focuses on digital teaching interventions, serious games, effects of examinations and evaluation methods. He is particularly interested in translational work ‘from bench to lecture hall’, i.e. the transfer of principles rooted in educational psychology to teaching applications.

Prof. Thomas C. Sauter: Department of Emergency Medicine, Inselspital, University Hospital, University of Bern, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. med. Thomas Sauter, MME, is Head Physician at the University Emergency Centre of the Inselspital and Endowed Professor of Telenotfall Medicine at the University of Bern and heads eEmergency Medicine, the Department of Telenotfall Medicine and eHealth at the University Emergency Centre. For years, he has been working both scientifically and in practical application on the opportunities and risks of the digitalisation of emergency medicine, especially in the area of telemedical applications and virtual reality in the clinic as well as in education and training.

Prof. Dr. Daniel Tolks: Medical School Hamburg, Germany
Daniel Tolks is Professor of Medical and Health Education at the Medical School Hamburg. His research focuses on the field of digital teaching and learning methods, artificial intelligence in medicine, digital health communication and the field of serious games and gamification. Daniel Tolks is a registered nurse, studied health promotion and health management at the University of Magdeburg-Stendal and completed his doctorate at the LMU Munich Hospital. He is chair of the "Digitalisation" committee of the German Society for Medical Education (GMA) and leads the Serious Games and Gamification for Health network of the Higher Education Forum on Digitisation (HFD) with several colleagues.

About the collection

BMC Medical Education called for submissions to our Collection on Gamification and Virtual Reality in Medical Education and Related Healthcare Professions. Fueled by the Coronavirus pandemic, digital teaching formats enhanced by interactive elements have received growing attention from higher education institutions worldwide. While the inclusion of game-based elements (‘gamification’) appears feasible in a number of contexts other than the healthcare sector, virtual reality appears to be specifically appealing to medical educators. At the same time, given the potential cost, the use of gamification elements as well as sophisticated software and hardware in order to simulate clinical environments needs to be justified on the basis of concepts in learning psychology suggesting that these elements will be superior to traditional instructional formats or that they can help achieve learning outcomes that have not been covered in the past. 

Most studies on gamification and virtual reality in medical education that have been published to date merely represent descriptions of innovations, and only a few present a thorough rationale for their use or present results of prospective, controlled effectiveness trials with meaningful end-points (i.e., objective performance indicators linked to the intended learning outcomes). There is a lack of justification and clarification studies, and evaluations of innovations going beyond mere student satisfaction are needed. In order to be able to decide in favour or against the integration of game-based formats and virtual reality sessions in formal curricula, educators need to have access to original studies, reviews, and recommendations on when and how these elements should be employed.

Studies in this collection will be mainly quantitative in nature; good control of and/or adjustment for potential confounding is particularly important. Studies should be prospective, and ideally we would see a number of randomised studies. At the same time, qualitative and mixed-method studies are welcome if they contribute to explaining quantitative results rather than just providing preliminary thoughts, ideas and opinions. Articles can cover the entire range of health-profession education, including but not limited to undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, nursing, midwifery, physiotherapy, pharmacology, public health and related fields.

In summary, the collection will not mainly be about technological advances but about principles that have guided development and implementation. Studies should assess whether these principles have worked in the specific context of a study, and they should provide conclusions that will be valid and meaningful for other contexts as well.

Key themes:

  • Application of concepts from learning psychology to medical education with a focus on gamification and/or virtual reality
  • Comparison of traditional instructional formats to innovative approaches including gamification and/or virtual reality with regard to meaningful educational outcomes
  • Cost-effectiveness assessments for innovative technology-based solutions compared to a traditional approach
  • Constructive alignment between intended learning outcomes, use of gamification and/or virtual reality elements, and formative/summative assessments. 
  • Added value of gamification / virtual reality elements if used as a supplement to or as a replacement for traditional teaching; effects on curriculum structure and student workload
  • Sustainability of new technologies with regard to computing power and waste management of VR devices 

The collection invites the following types of articles for possible publication:

  • Research articles
  • Narrative reviews
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • Scoping reviews


Image credit: cofotoisme, iStock

  1. Although healthcare providers (HCPs) are the most trusted source of vaccine information, there is a paucity of easily accessible, multidisciplinary educational tools on vaccine communication for them. Virtual ...

    Authors: Emily J. Doucette, Madison M. Fullerton, Margaret Pateman, Alyssa Lip, Sherilyn K. D. Houle, James D. Kellner, Jenine Leal, Shannon E. MacDonald, Deborah McNeil, Jane Tyerman, Marian Luctkar-Flude, Sandra Davidson and Cora Constantinescu
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:190
  2. Cricothyrotomy is an invasive and rare emergency intervention to secure the airway in a “cannot intubate, cannot ventilate” situation. This leads to lack of routine. Cricothyrotomy is performed only hesitantly...

    Authors: I Speck, A Merk, V Burkhardt, Flayyih O, C Huber, A Widder, F Everad and C Offergeld
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:148
  3. The concepts of advance care planning (ACP) and advance decisions/directives (ADs) are widely recognized around the world. The Patient Right to Autonomy Act in Taiwan, the first of its kind in Asia, went into ...

    Authors: You-Kang Chang, Yao-Kuang Wu and Tzu-Hung Liu
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:112
  4. The aging population has caused assistive technology (AT) to receive attention. Thus, ensuring accurate user comprehension of AT has become increasingly crucial, and more specialized education for students in ...

    Authors: Peng-Hsu Chen, Hsuan-Wei Ho, Hung-Chou Chen, Ka-Wai Tam, Ju-Chi Liu and Li-Fong Lin
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:101
  5. Virtual simulation and face-to-face simulation are effective for clinical judgment training. Rare studies have tried to improve clinical judgment ability by applying virtual simulation and face-to-face simulat...

    Authors: Jian Yang, Wen Jie Zhou, Si Chen Zhou, Dan Luo, Qian Liu, Ai-Ling Wang, Si-Hong Yu, Xiao-Ping Zhu, Xue Yu He, Fen Hu, Bing Xiang Yang and Jie Chen
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:32
  6. The aim was to investigate whether second-year undergraduate nursing students practicing the Identification-Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (ISBAR) communication approach in a desktop virtual re...

    Authors: Eva Mari Andreasen, Helen Berg, Aslak Steinsbekk, Rune Høigaard and Kristin Haraldstad
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2023 23:983
  7. Medical educators seek innovative ways to engage learners efficiently and effectively. Gamification has been explored as one way to accomplish this feat; however, questions remain about which contexts gamifica...

    Authors: Marie Do, Kimberly Sanford, Susan Roseff, Alexandra Hovaguimian, Henrike Besche and Krisztina Fischer
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2023 23:959
  8. The gamification of learning increases student enjoyment, and motivation and engagement in learning tasks. This study investigated the effects of gamification using decision-making cards (DMCs) on diagnostic d...

    Authors: Kosuke Ishizuka, Kiyoshi Shikino, Hajme Kasai, Yoji Hoshina, Saito Miura, Tomoko Tsukamoto, Kazuyo Yamauchi, Shoichi Ito and Masatomi Ikusaka
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2023 23:813
  9. The Airways, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure (ABCDE) approach is an international approach for systematic clinical observation. It is an essential clinical skill for medical and healthcare profess...

    Authors: Helen Berg, Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland and Aslak Steinsbekk
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2023 23:639
  10. Despite the proven effectiveness of simulation-based learning activities, its adoption in medical education remains limited, and the influence of simulation on student motivation, particularly subjective task ...

    Authors: Fei Gao, Jingfan Qiu, Lin Chen, Lan Li, Minjun Ji and Rong Zhang
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2023 23:630

Submission Guidelines

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This Collection welcomes submission of Original Research Articles and Reviews. Before submitting your manuscript, please ensure you have read our submission guidelines. Submissions to this Collection should be submitted via our submission system, Snapp. During the submission process you will be asked whether you are submitting to a Collection, please select "Gamification and Virtual Reality in Medical Education and Related Healthcare Professions" from the dropdown menu.

Submissions will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies. Submissions will be added to the Collection as they are published.

The Guest Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer review process. The peer review of any submissions for which the Guest Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.