ACOM Team Defeats Portugal to Win International Virtual Patient Challenge

A team of second-year students from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) won the International Virtual Patient Challenge hosted by Body Interact on December 11, 2021.

The Virtual Patient Challenge is a competition in which student teams are presented with emergent clinical scenarios that require medical knowledge, clinical skills, teamwork and communication to save the simulated virtual patient. The ACOM team previously won the National Virtual Patient Challenge on March 2, hosted by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). Nine teams from seven countries competed in the international event representing Bosnia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, India, Portugal, Russia and the US.

The nine teams, each composed of three active participants, from across the globe competed in the same two cases simultaneously, with the winners of each competition advancing. ACOM students went head-to-head against Portugal in the international finals on Saturday, where they clenched the victory and secured the title of World Champions. In the final round, the ACOM team was presented with a complex case requiring a high sense of urgency, in which a patient had multiple trauma injuries, including a ruptured spleen and pelvic fracture.

ACOM’s Simulation Curriculum Coordinator, Dianne Walker, spent extensive time with the team to prepare them for the competition.

“A major emphasis that we bring to every simulated encounter here at ACOM is the importance of critical thinking and clinical reasoning to derive at the correct clinical diagnosis and treatment of the patient leading to a successful outcome in ensuring patient safety,” Walker said. “I have never felt so proud of these three students as they represented the United States. It was very emotional and at times gut wrenching as they worked through some very touch cases calmly and professionally.”

John T. Giannini Jr., MD, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of Simulation at ACOM, trained this group of students in weekly sessions leading up to the International Virtual Patient Challenge. Since winning the national competition in the spring, this ACOM team has continued training to strengthen their skills, communication and teamwork. The intense preparation helped ensure that the ACOM team could use their dynamic teamwork structure to excel in the competition.

“The SIMps have been working together over the past few months preparing for this competition and have really transformed into a wonderful healthcare team,” Giannini said. “They work well together – listening and respecting each other’s opinions and insights to caring/treating the patient. They stayed calm in a very high risk, emergent medical situation along with the expected pressures to perform well amongst their competitors around the world and representing ACOM at their best!”

The SIMps team includes Will Laidig, Arianne Serrano, Brian Lewis, Elizabeth Vandervort and Conor Willis.