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Explore This IssueFebruary 2014
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I won’t pretend. I am aware that every time the 2013 ACR Knowledge Bowl (KB) host Rebecca Manno, MD, handed a microphone to the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) team and said, “UT QT’s, go next,” some members of the audience giggled. We could have chosen another name, like Cowbyologics, Lone Rheum for Stars, or some other more formidable-sounding name for our Texas team, but we chose something easy and catchy. So when I heard my team being called for the first time, I thought, Oh boy—you cannot take us seriously! However, the stress of performing before a live audience and being blinded by the powerful stage lights quickly eliminated that part of my thinking process.
An Annual Tradition
The Knowledge Bowl is held during the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, and it is based on the format of the iconic TV game show Jeopardy. Each year, rheumatology fellowship programs assemble teams that consist of two fellows who are coached by an attending physician. Team members are designated as ACR meeting speakers and have to sign speaker agreements and provide short biographical sketches, which are used by the host to introduce each contestant. What a great way for the audience to learn something funny, embarrassing, or intimate about each player! Fellows participate in the preliminary rounds and, in the finals round, are joined by their attending physician. The stakes get higher, and points are doubled in the later rounds. As in the TV version of the game, the final question often becomes a winner-take-all situation, depending on the scores.
The topics that were covered included crystals, myositis, disease-modifying drug therapies, soft-tissue pain syndromes, and whatever else can generate a short, but challenging, rheumatology question. For the first time, this year’s Bowl included two international teams, the Guatemalan Association against Rheumatic Diseases’ AGAR Force and Saudi Arabia’s Rheum of Arabia. Aside from winning a trophy, the two finalists were awarded free registration for next year’s annual meeting, and the runner-up team won a free future “Meet the Professor” session.
As exciting as all this was, the most important aspect of the experience was the feeling I had of being an integral part of the ACR family. It was exhilarating to compete against the other teams in a fun, collegial atmosphere. The exercise of having to think on your toes can only help me in the future when faced with in-service and rheumatology board exams.
Taking the Field
I anxiously awaited our turn to play against the tough Guatemalan team. I did not know what to expect from our rivals. Would they be gentle giants or aggressive contestants, or somewhere in between? My imagination ran wild. Some of the more competitive teams studied with flashcards and appeared to be intently focused. It was interesting to watch the qualifying rounds and observe that we are all vulnerable, imperfect, and, at times, very amusing fellows. The entertainment factor of the Bowl cannot be overstated.