‘Wargaming with the chiefs’: A novel pre-mortem exercise to enhance communication and well-being among ‘top gun’ chief residents

Heidi Allespach, Stefanie Brown, Kassandra M. Bosire, Leticia Tornes, Stuart Bagatell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pilots who complete the ‘TOPGUN’ program return to their squadrons as elite leaders and instructors. Physicians from all specialties who are selected to become Chief residents can also be viewed as ‘Top Guns’, as they are the ‘cream of the crop’; having been chosen to be the leaders and role-models for all the other residents in their programs. Yet, unlike Top Gun pilots, Chief residents are arguably only minimally prepared for this new role. Wargaming involves generating every possible bad outcome and brainstorming contingencies for these possible outcomes. We developed an exercise for the incoming Chiefs (ICs) and outgoing Chiefs (OCs) in four specialties: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurosurgery, and Neurology. Following this exercise, 100% of the Chiefs in all four programs indicated that this activity was beneficial and the majority agreed that wargaming improved communication and their own feelings of well-being. Based on our trainees’ feedback, it appears that wargaming is a simple, fun, and highly-interactive exercise which increases perceived control among ICs and allows OCs the chance to reflect and share their knowledge and experience with the new Chiefs. This activity also seems to enhance communication and feelings of well-being among both incoming and outgoing Chief residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedical teacher
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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