American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Medical 'Jeopardy' rounds score big points with residents

Once a regional rivalry, this Annual Session blockbuster now draws teams of Associates from across the country

From the June ACP Observer, copyright © 2004 by the American College of Physicians.

By Janet Colwell

NEW ORLEANS—It all started as a friendly "Southern challenge" among Associates in ACP's Florida, Georgia and Alabama chapters. Ten years later, Doctor's Dilemma has grown into a standing-room only Annual Session event, with 22 teams from across the country competing before a cheering crowd of several hundred spectators.

Modeled on the game show "Jeopardy," this year's competition kicked off with seven first-round games, with winning teams advancing to the semifinals and finals.

Each match covers five categories, such as cardiology, ophthalmology and dermatology, and each category contains five questions, with answers worth between 10 and 50 points. Teams consist of three Associates, and a final "double Jeopardy" round helps determine the winner.


At this year's Doctor's Dilemma, more than 20 teams use their medical knowledge and betting strategies to compete.


This year's series of rounds lasted almost three hours and led to a final match among teams from the Texas, U.S. Army and District of Columbia chapters. Anjali Ramaswami, ACP Associate, represented the Texas Chapter along with two other teammates from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. Their team was the come-from-behind winner, edging out the U.S. Army Chapter's team that had dominated throughout the round. The UTMB team's victory makes it the national winner for the last three national competitions.

"It was mentally and physically exhausting," Dr. Ramaswami said. "There was a lot of adrenaline flowing."

A fast hand

Trailing the U.S. Army Chapter's team by a score of 260 to 130, the Texas team bet everything in its final Jeopardy round. Team members doubled their score with the correct answer to this question: "Which organism is associated with causing a reactive arthritis in patients with cystic fibrosis?" (Answer: pseudomaonas aeruginosa.)

The U.S. Army Chapter's team, which didn't guess the right answer, had bet $1—and lost by 260-259.

Besides an aggressive approach to betting, Dr. Ramaswami chalked her team's win in part to having a quick hand on the game buzzer.

"You have to be really fast," she said. "It's all about getting to the buzzer."

Teamwork and practice also played a part. The team competed at the state level before advancing to Annual Session. It also spent time going over the Doctor's Dilemma categories and sample questions provided by the College.

Preparing for the Boards

While residents enjoy the competition, they are also fine-tuning their medical knowledge. Event organizers take questions for the matches from standard texts, including the College's MKSAP program, "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine" and "Cecil Essentials of Medicine."

Program directors claim the Doctor's Dilemma format is an effective teaching tool that is being used in several residency programs.

And, Dr. Ramaswami pointed out, competing is a great way to prepare for the Boards, keep up-to-date on different diseases and experience the thrill of winning.

"It gives you a chance to pit yourself against other universities, totally based on your knowledge of internal medicine," she said. "We beat people from some very well-known universities, and that makes you feel good."

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How to be a player

Teams appearing in the Doctor's Dilemma at Annual Session usually start by competing in state chapter events, representing different training programs around their state.

Winning state teams are then sponsored by their chapters to go to the national competition at Annual Session. Teams are accepted on a first-come, first-registered basis. The registration roster usually fills up by mid-January.

For more information, contact Kelly Lott, the College's Manager of Medical Students and Associates Activities, at klott@acponline.org, or Tracey Henry at thenry@acponline.org.

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