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SimWars: A “warring tigers” competition

Nikita Joshi, MD |


You’ve seen this word on the agenda at the most recent Emergency Medicine conference that you attended. It sounded interesting… but you ended up going to a happy hour and missed out on the event. And so you are left with the burning question, what is SimWars?

I have now heard Dr. Haru Okuda (Director of VA SIMLEARN) introduce SimWars a few times at the start of competitions at conferences. He usually has a photo of two cute little kittens with great big sweet eyes juxtaposed with a photo of two warring tigers fighting each other. He uses this comedic relief to illustrate the difference between a standard simulation session and SimWars competition.

A hilarious video that playfully shows the competitive nature of the competition can be seen in this clip for the upcoming Social Medical and Critical Care (SMACC) Conference in Sydney on March 11-13, 2013.

The History of SimWars

Creators, Drs. Andy Godwin (EM Chair of Univ of Florida-Jacksonville), Haru Okuda and Scott Weingart (Mt. Sinai-NY and Emcrit.org) originally developed SimWars in response to an observed lack of urgency in response to simulated cases used in education. They watched their residents wait for the inevitable bomb to drop before actively managing the patient and thought perhaps they could build some healthy stress into the scenarios.

In addition to providing an avenue for large group education at local, national and international conferences, SimWars allows a unique opportunity to observe the differences in how different training programs address similar situations. SimWars is also a way to showcase the utility of simulation training to more “sim-naïve” educators. It’s definitely an exciting introduction to those new to simulation.

SimWars presence at major meetings

SimWars were held at the recent SAEM, ACEP, International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH), and the Canadian Simulation Summit conferences. This allowed the demonstration of interdisciplinary teamwork and communication, which was the focus of such events as IMSH and the Canadian Simulation Summit. Dr. Lisa Jacobson (University of Florida-Jacksonville) has joined the SimWars team and coordinates much of the ground work.

Personal perspective

I have participated myself as a confederate and case writer.  Confederates, or “actors,” play an important role. We often are the source of important information, whether it be subtle exam findings or significant history, but just as in actual care environments, these details may be difficult to glean amidst obstructive/entertaining personalities or surrounding chaos. It is the confederates’ role to provide a balance between chaos and flow, helping to move the case quickly forward to adhere to the short time periods necessary for a competition.

Case writing is also a fun challenge. We get to brainstorm all the possible ways a team may respond to the case and how to create manageable barriers for them to overcome. You don’t want the case to be too easy, nor do you want the case to be impossible. Most importantly there should be specific educational goals. Watch out for those twists!

Bottom line

Ultimately, I have found SimWars  to be an unique educational platform, which balances the entertaining and the challenging. There are plenty of opportunities to learn and educate, whether you are a judge, a sim team member, confederate, or case writer.

Join me at the next SimWars competition in Orlando, FL at the IMSH Simulation conference (Jan 26-30, 2013)!

Special thanks to Dr. Lisa Jacobson for her help and contribution to this blog write up.

Author information

Nikita Joshi, MD

Nikita Joshi, MD

ALiEM Chief People Officer and Associate Editor
Clinical Instructor
Department of Emergency Medicine
Stanford University

The post SimWars: A “warring tigers” competition appeared first on ALiEM.

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