Researchers from the Department of OBGYN at Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center tested the effects of varying the amount of physical practice vs. mental imagery rehearsal for training medical students to perform basic surgical procedures. Using a sample of 65 second-year medical students, 3 randomized groups received either: (1) 3 sessions of physical practice on suturing a pig's foot; (2) 2 sessions of physical practice and 1 session of mental imagery rehearsal; or (3) 1 session of physical practice and 2 sessions of imagery rehearsal.
All participants then performed a surgery on a live rabbit in the operating theater of a veterinary college under approved conditions. Analysis of variance was applied to pre- and post-treatment ratings of surgical performance.
The findings showed that physical practice followed by mental imagery rehearsal was statistically equal to additional physical practice. The researchers conclude that initial physical practice, followed by mental imagery rehearsal, may be a cost-effective method of training medical students in learning basic surgical skills.
Citation: Sanders CW, Sadoski M, Bramson R, Wiprud R, Van Walsum K. Comparing the effects of physical practice and mental imagery rehearsal on learning basic surgical skills by medical students. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2004 Nov; 191(5): pages 1811-4. firstname.lastname@example.org.