The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

The Intersection of Video Games and Medicine with Dr. Eric Gantwerker

Dr. Eric Gantwerker, medical director of Level Ex, discusses the role of technology and mentorship in medical education. Level Ex is a company that develops professional video games to help physicians further their clinical skills

  • [02:23] Why Pediatric Otolaryngology?
  • [05:32] Dr. Gantwerker’s Passion for Medical Education
  • [07:57] Networking Leads to New Opportunities
  • [10:30] Seeking Out Mentors in Medical School
  • [14:46] Level Ex: Medical Video Games for Doctors
  • [18:00] Dr. Gantwerker’s Role in Level Ex
  • [19:30] Level Ex Game Based Training for COVID-19
  • [21:44] New Level Ex Projects in Development
  • [23:56] Internship and Career Openings at Level Ex
  • [26:35] The Future of Medical Education
  • [30:18] Dr. Gantwerker’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen chats with Dr. Eric Gantwerker, a practicing pediatric otolaryngologist with a master’s degree in medical education from Harvard. He also serves as the VP, medical director of Level Ex, a company that develops professional video games to help physicians further their clinical skills. Erkeda and Dr. Gantwerker discuss the role of technology and mentorship in medical education.

Specializing in Pediatric Otolaryngology

Going into pediatrics felt like a natural decision for Dr. Gantwerker since he has always enjoyed the company of kids. Others may be deterred from becoming pediatricians because they’d have to deal with two patients: the child and the parent. But for Dr. Gantwerker, he appreciates interacting with the parents and gaining their trust.

Dr. Gantwerker chose otolaryngology because it’s one of the few specialties that trains doctors in both medical and surgical aspects. His training enables him to deal with a host of different cases. He finds the anatomy for the head and neck to be very interesting. There are a lot of processes that take place in such a small space. The field of otolaryngology also allows him to work with kids and adults.


Networking & Mentorship Leads to New Opportunities

Medical students should ask advice from people who they want to pattern their careers after. Ask around your network for grants, fellowships, opportunities, or even new connections. The medical community is huge; take advantage of it by talking to people outside of your circle. You need only to be open and proactive in reaching out to your network.

Don’t limit yourself to have just one mentor. Having various advisors means you have several experts to consult about different topics. Peers and colleagues may also serve as teachers. Establishing a trusting relationship with mentors is important. That way, you can be sure that they have your best interests at heart. Good connections and mentors can open a lot of doors for you.

Level Ex: Medical Video Games for Doctors

Level Ex creates medical video games to help doctors improve their skills while keeping them up to date on the latest developments in medicine. Modern game technology and psychology are used to create interactive, puzzle, and logic games that cover a wide range of topics in different specializations.

The company aims to change the conventional approach to lifelong learning by utilizing creative technology. Level Ex continuously adds new medical specialties to expand the content on their platform. More recently, they included COVID-19 specific content to help address the global pandemic.

The Future of Medical Education

There are quite a few changes that Dr. Gantwerker would like to see in the future of medical education. First, he would like to change the way medicine is being taught. Although problem and system-based learning is already in effect, educators are still heavily reliant on didactic instruction. Lectures and textbook learning have been proven to be ineffective, there needs to be more creative ways of teaching. Dr. Gantwerker proposes the use of technology like virtual reality to increase student engagement.

Second, decision making in medical education needs to evolve. There are already AI support tools available which can help examine radiology scans, make clinical diagnoses, and suggest treatment options. People need to be educated on how to use innovative technology and how to make decisions based off these new tools. Technology will change the way we interact with information and patients.

Finally, the content of assessments must focus on problem solving skills instead of memorization. The tests should mirror the actual practice of medicine, instead of just measuring what students know. With today’s technology, information is readily available in just a few clicks. Assessments should test your ability to use and analyze data in meaningful ways relevant to medicine.

Dr. Gantwerker’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students

Instead of following a “formula”, Dr. Gantwerker encourages pre-med students to forge their own path. Know what your skills and interests are early on, and then pursue them. Even if you’re not taking a typical pre-med degree, you can still apply to medical school. Hobbies will not takeaway from your ability to do medicine. On the contrary, your activities outside school can provide new perspectives and depth to your practice. Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self, no matter how eccentric that may be.

Being in medical school in this day and age is tough, but don’t be intimidated. Find work-life balance by pursuing hobbies. Having a life outside medical school can prevent burnout down the road. Doctors need to be well in order to administer care to others.

Have an idea you’d like to share? Reach out to Dr. Gantwerker via LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out the Level Ex Website for internship programs and other career opportunities.

Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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