“Surgery interrupted”: The effect of multitasking on cognitive and technical tasks in medical students

Charity H Evans, E. Schneider, V. Shostrom, Paul J Schenarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction Today's medical learners are Millennials, and reportedly, multitasking pros. We aim to evaluate effect of multitasking on cognitive and technical skills. Materials and methods 16 medical students completed a mock page and laceration closure separately on day 1 and day 13, and in parallel on day 14. Suturing was graded using GRS and mock pages scored. Total time, suturing and loading times, and percent correct on mock page were compared. Results Percent correct on mock page improved from days 1–13 and 14 (p < 0.01 and 0.04). GRS improved from days 1–13 and 14 (p = 0.04 and <0.01). Total time suturing was similar on all days. However, time suturing during the mock page on day 14 was prolonged compared to before mock page (p = 0.01). Conclusions Medical students can complete cognitive and technical tasks in parallel, without compromising acceptability. However, multitasking results in longer times to complete the complex component of the technical task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-272
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017



  • Distraction
  • Medical students
  • Mock pages
  • Multitasking
  • Surgical skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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