On February 13th, 2010, Rahul Bhagat, an AUA student, was a member of the Harbor Hospital student team, which won Maryland’s American College of Physicians (ACP) chapter’s Doctor’s Dilemma™ competition.

The Doctor’s Dilemma™ is an annual, Jeopardy™-style competition where forty teams compete at the ACP national meeting for the title of national champion. The competition began in 1994, during an annual ACP meeting, when the ACP chapter leader in Florida challenged his counterparts from Georgia and Alabama with Jeopardy™-style questions for residents. After this, interest grew and ACP chapters across the country began to emulate the game.  Teams for the national competition are selected by their chapters’ Governor after they hold a similar event at their state meetings.

Harbor Hospital, one of the many teaching hospitals that AUA has a clinical affiliation with, was represented by two teams at the Maryland chapter competition: a student team and a resident team. The selection process for the Harbor Hospital student team began a month before the games commenced. Twenty-six Caribbean medical school students competed for the four spots on the final student roster for Harbor Hospital.

The Harbor Hospital student team entered the final rounds as wild cards. Student teams representing John Hopkins University, University of Maryland, and Union Memorial Hospital also competed in the event. On top of competing against these renowned universities and hospitals, the team also had to face residents as well. The resident-level questions didn’t faze the students. Harbor Hospital’s residency team was not as lucky as the student team – the former was knocked out of the competition before the final rounds.

Bhagat, a 7th-semester student going into his 8th semester, is part of a continuing legacy of AUA champions in the Doctor’s Dilemma™ competition. Three years ago, Seema Kumar, now an MD, was a member of the student team representing Harbor Hospital that won the Maryland competition as well. Bhagat explained how AUA prepared him for the competition:

“Preclinical Science helped quite a bit,” Bhagat said. “[It] has carried me a pretty long way from the island.”

Starting last year, a student Doctor’s Dilemma™ was held at the national competition. Kelly Lott, an ACP representative, said that ACP chapters have had difficulties in sending their winning student teams to the competition. ACP’s rules stipulate that an MD must be on the team for it to advance to the national competition.

“This is a bit tougher to accomplish because four students from the same school may not get funded to go to a national meeting,” Lott said. “But there has been an increase in the number of chapters that are adding the student challenges to their meetings.”

Even though his team cannot go to the national competition, Bhagat was elated about his team’s accomplishment.

“It was a very fulfilling experience,” Bhagat said. “This was the culmination of the last three years of my education. My hard work finally paid off.”

About the American College of Physicians

The ACP, founded in 1915, is a national organization of doctors specializing in internal medicine and, with over 129,000 members, is the largest medical specialty group in the United States. Their mission is “to enhance the quality and effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine.”

To play the mobile version of Doctor’s Dilemma™, please visit http://www.acponline.org/residents_fellows/resources/doctors_dilemma/