As CHEST Challenge began its 20th year of competition, the event’s history loomed large in the minds of its eventual 2021 champions.
Teams from Interfaith Medical Center, SUNY Buffalo, and The Ohio State University met in the finals of the 20th anniversary event on Tuesday, October 19, at the CHEST 2021 annual meeting. During an hourlong virtual game show that included callbacks to 2 decades of entertainment and education, OSU’s program emerged victorious—and added to a legacy of its own.
The team of Sarah Cohen, MD; Gregory Eisinger, MD, MSSW; and Kyle Stinehart, MD, returned the Rosen Cup winner’s trophy to Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, which also won in 2019 before a required gap year in 2020.
“I’m sure all the teams feel a lot of pressure—having to represent our programs and compete on a national stage and look smart—but I think we especially felt that because we sort of had this streak we had to keep up,” said Dr. Eisinger, who witnessed the CHEST 2019 victory in person, along with Dr. Stinehart.
The 2021 event highlighted that 2019 team and all other past champions as part of an elaborate 20th anniversary video that kicked off the evening. Audience members were treated to scenes of Master of Ceremonies William Kelly, MD, FCCP, and other notable faces from CHEST Challenge’s past reenacting their roles in the creation of the event in the early 2000s.
Other special touches for the 20th anniversary broadcast included video messages from the finalists’ program directors, recorded questions asked by the CHEST Foundation Early Career Professional Development Scholarship awardees, and several audience giveaways.
Fellows participated remotely from their home institutions via Zoom, and teams traded the lead back and forth over the course of the Jeopardy-style game. Questions sometimes incorporated rhymes, music, superhero references, and numerous visual aids. Categories touched on subjects such as waveforms, lung cancer, fluids, pulmonary devices, and vaccines.
After trailing the University at Buffalo following the first board of questions, Ohio State built a lead during the second set, thanks in part to victories in each of the three Skills Challenges that organizers prerecorded with the teams. In one challenge, fellows had to complete an effective and empathic lung cancer screening in just 45 seconds. Another enlisted program directors to draw clues for a medical knowledge version of Pictionary. The broadcast showed clips from each challenge, including some behind-the-scenes footage that Dr. Kelly used to highlight members of CHEST’s Training and Transitions Committee who assisted with the months-long process leading up to the championship event.
“It was very noticeable on our end that a lot of thoughtful planning went into putting together CHEST Challenge virtually,” Dr. Stinehart said. “So I left even more appreciative of that. It’s a lot of work that goes into planning the event.”
Ohio State led all teams with a score of $5,000 prior to the Final Challenge wager and question. All three teams correctly identified the organism responsible for a pulmonary infection visible across a set of five images—Echinococcus. OSU wagered a symbolic $2021 to beat out second-place Buffalo, $7,021 to $7,000, after Buffalo wagered its entire $3,500. As champions, Ohio State earned a $5,000 first-place prize. Buffalo took home a second-place prize of $3,000, and Interfaith was awarded $1,000 for third place.
Despite the expectations they placed on themselves before the event, OSU team members said the evening’s experience was enjoyable throughout. Dr. Cohen credited the victory to a complete team effort, although viewers couldn’t see or hear much other than one person’s answer.
“The masks probably hid that we were discussing every question amongst ourselves as things were going on,” Dr. Cohen said. “That part was kind of fun once we got into it.”
The newly crowned champions celebrated by briefly reuniting with colleagues at a nearby watch party, then calling it a night before 10:00 pm—a bit more low-key than celebrations at past in-person meetings, but still fun, the fellows assured, laughing.
Much of the team’s attention will now turn to fast-approaching board exams, but Dr. Eisinger said he surprisingly feels a sense of relief having already studied some of the overlapping material in-depth for CHEST Challenge. Dr. Cohen, who will not be taking boards this year, said she is looking forward to catching up on a list of lectures from CHEST 2021 during the meeting’s on-demand period. Each of the fellows looks back fondly on the experience and appreciates being involved.
“The Twitter challenge beforehand was fun, the study sessions were fun, filming the videos… all of it was just enjoyable,” Dr. Stinehart said. “It was a good excuse to make light during a year and a half that’s otherwise not provided a whole lot of making light of anything.”
Watch the full recording of the 2021 CHEST Challenge Championship.
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