Emergency medicine residency brings home third Sim Wars national championship

A team of emergency medicine residents from the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville captured another Sim Wars national championship this month in Denver.

It was the third national title for the residency on the Jacksonville campus in the six years of the simulation medical education competition, held at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Buoyed by the 23,000-square-foot UF Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research (CSESaR) and a commitment by faculty to integrating simulation into medical training, the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville’s emergency medicine residency is one of the nation’s top Sim Wars competitors.

"It’s kind of our claim to fame and it’s really helped put us on the map," said David A. Caro, M.D., an associate professor and program director of the emergency medicine residency.

In Sim Wars, teams are given a medical scenario – with plenty of tricks and twists – and must use their skills and judgment to handle the situation. Teams compete head-to-head; two teams at a time similar to a football game, and judges score the teams on a variety of criteria.

Eight teams are in the national championship competition and all teams are chosen by a lottery, except for the defending champion, Caro said.

Each team UF faced was also aligned with a downtown hospital similar to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center and their residents would see patients and cases similar to residents in Jacksonville.

The winning team of UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville residents Heidi Ashbaugh, M.D., Brian Baird, M.D., Tracy Graham, M.D. and Steve Macdade, M.D., defeated Beth Israel Medical Center from New York City in the finals.

Caro said up to half of residents’ conferences on UF’s Jacksonville campus involve some sort of simulation and it’s engrained in the culture of emergency medicine resident training. It starts at the top with Steven A. Godwin, M.D., professor and chair of emergency medicine, as well as assistant dean for simulation education.

Godwin helped develop Sim Wars as a national program and UF assistant professor Lisa A. Jacobson, M.D., is a national coordinator for the competitions. The simulation education culture is further cemented, Caro said, by assistant professors Stephen S. Topp, M.D., and Richard L. Westenbarger, M.D., who were on the first national championship team in 2008 and have since been hired as faculty.

"Having the Sim Center here and the faculty who have championed it have primed us for this kind of thing," Caro said.

Recognition such as this is important for the program, which also won national titles in 2008 and 2009, especially in terms of recruiting the best residents.

"Students who are looking for an emergency medicine residency know," Caro said. "These are the kinds of things they are looking for."

Featured Faculty

David A. Caro, MD

David A. Caro, MD

Associate Designated Institutional Official, UFCOM-J; Associate Chair, Educational Affairs, Department of Emergency Medicine

Steven A. Godwin, MD, FACEP

Steven A. Godwin, MD, FACEP

Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine; Assistant Dean, Simulation Education; Program Director, Patient Safety Fellowship