|The Beginning of SIM at UT Health San Antonio|
By Alex Ryden and Corey McNeilly
Before late November of 2016, the Student Initiative in Medical Simulation (SIMS) team for the Long School of Medicine did not exist as anything more than an illusion. The idea had existed for some time previously, of course, but the story of how the team came to be perfectly illustrates the work required to make an idea into a reality and the value of taking it to completion.
The idea itself came after MS-2 Jeff Shibata observed the SIMS teams from other schools compete at the 2016 TCEP Connect conference. Jeff recognized the potential of bringing SIMS to San Antonio and enlisted the help of MS-4 Alek Rosenthal. Together, Jeff and Alek put together their own team for the next year’s competition in order to give students valuable skills and clinical exposure that they would normally not receive until later in their studies. However, roadblocks quickly surfaced.
To start, finding a place to train proved to be more difficult than originally anticipated. Faculty in the UTHSA Department of Emergency Medicine were eager to help, but understaffing made it difficult to arrange a training schedule. Additionally, limited availability for using training rooms made it near impossible for the SIMS team to practice. Without a simulation lab to practice in, the group faced serious roadblocks on their way to becoming an effective unit.
Nevertheless, the team decided to start practicing anyway. Using online resources, tools from other schools, and acquired clinical knowledge, Alek organized a training regime for a group of eager but ignorant first years. Shortly thereafter, the pieces began to fall into place as the team members realized that what truly mattered was not the facilities but rather the clinical knowledge to adequately assess the case and the ability of the team members to work together as a single unit. The team continued to hone its skills and were finally able to gain access to the training facilities the week before TCEP 2017, allowing them to practice their skills in a similar setting to what they would face in the competition.
The entire journey took far longer than anticipated and required much more effort on the part of all involved. Despite these obstacles, the SIMS team represented the Long School of Medicine by competing in the TCEP Connect 2017 conference SIM wars and narrowly missed out on advancing to the second round after a close defeat by University of North Texas Health Science Center. But the groundwork was laid. With the infrastructure in place and the organizational issues solved, the team expects a much stronger presentation in the future as they will be able to hit the ground running in July with the current team ready to train the next generation.