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ACOM Medical Students Make History for OME in Landmark International Simulation Competition Victory

ACOM's SimChallenge teamFrom left to right: Jake Nicholson, John Murphy, Daniel Becak, and Daniel Fuchs. 

A team of second-year students from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) achieved a new milestone for the osteopathic medical education (OME) community earlier this month when they won the International SimChallenge in Paris, France at the Society in Europe for the Simulation Applied to Medicine (SESAM) annual meeting, June 14-16. This marks the first time an osteopathic medical school both advanced to the final of two rounds and won the competition.

SimChallenge provides aspiring physicians the opportunity to expand and apply their medical knowledge, clinical skills, teamwork, and communication to save the simulated patient, through real-life clinical scenarios. The ACOM team previously won the National SimChallenge during the 2017 American Medical Student Association (AMSA) annual convention held in Washington, DC, in February, earning them the opportunity to represent the United States at the SESAM conference. Students from six countries competed in the international event representing China, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the United States.

Team members work on the simulated gunshot victim.During the final round, the ACOM team was challenged to treat a live male patient with gunshot wounds to the face and right chest, along with severe facial trauma. The simulation allowed students to perform procedures on the patient, who was wearing a cut suit and needed a surgical airway because the facial trauma prevented him from being intubated. The team also had to put in a chest tube, while stabilizing the patient, transfusing blood, and organizing the right specialists to provide treatment.

“The whole experience has demonstrated how vital teamwork is to being successful in medicine,” said Jake Nicholson, ACOM team member. “Too often we judge our success based on our individual accomplishments, but this honor would not be possible without our dedication to each other. My Sim experience has been truly unforgettable. Medicine is a dynamic and exciting field and I hope the lessons I have learned during this experience will help me to contribute to improving how we deliver medical care.”

Daniel Fuchs, team captain, agreed that the competition helped strengthen their teamwork skills while also empowering them to work effectively under pressure in ways that build confidence.

Sim gunshot victim attended to by the ACOM team.“The one aspect that I didn’t expect was the complexity of the cases in the competition,” he said. “The cases truly required us to think outside of the box and operate in a very stressful environment. There were definitely times during the competition, especially during the final round, where I began to feel as if I was maybe out of my depth. While all of us together performed well, I think this was an excellent teaching moment in learning how to operate in a very high stress environment.”

Understanding the importance of adapting to changing situations in a provider context is something that team member John Murphy says he will take back to ACOM as a valuable lesson learned for application in the future as a DO.

“Though knowledge is a crucial foundation required to be prepared, this experience exemplified the fast-paced nature of emergency medicine and proved to me the importance of developing a flexible approach to the different patient presentations that I will face in my career,” he said.

Daniel Becak credits the team’s success to the excellent training and support from the faculty and campus community of ACOM, which prepared the students for the challenges ahead.

“For us, this victory has been 2 years in the making. Since our first year, our current team along with our fifth team member, Arthur Maduabia, practiced cases every week in order to sharpen our medical and teamwork skills. The support of Dr. John Giannini and Ms. Dianne Walker was a blessing,” the OMS-II recalls. “They worked tirelessly each week to develop high-fidelity simulations of complex medical and trauma cases to test the limits of our abilities and make us grow as physicians. …”

Photos courtesy of ACOM.