A student’s perspective on the NMSA Cup Experience:
Your heart is pounding, you’re trying to focus and you tell yourself it’s all for fun. But really, you’re taking this much too seriously! In the end, it matters less than any test score you’ve received, more than any Gross Anatomy, Biochemistry or NPLEX exam so you ask yourself why you’re so nervous. Maybe it’s because you could be asked any question ranging from the first rate limiting enzyme in glycolysis to which B vitamin is depleted in chronic alcoholism to the histology of granulation tissue in TB to the pharmaceutical prescribed for gonorrhea to the proximal insertion of brachioradialis to the… and I think you get the point. It’s not multiple choice and you don’t have more than a millisecond to think. You’re representing your school and it’s not helping that a row of your classmates and friends are sitting right behind you whispering, “win for Bastyr!” and “you got this, stay calm.” But I’m not calm! And hold on, they’re asking the first question and I’m 40-90% sure I know the active constituents in Glycyrrhiza glabra. Should I press the buzzer and risk letting down my team? Your red buzzer lights up and the adjudicator along with every head in the room turns to look at you expectantly. “The answer is…”
This is the NMSA trivia cup, friends. It’s fun, exhilarating and a perfect mesh of healthy competition, nerdy medical facts and the opportunity to celebrate teamwork, naturopathic medicine and the pursuit of knowledge. If you enjoy learning absurd details and exhibiting your knowledge of totally useful and utterly useless information in a competitive environment, then it’s a perfect fit. During the competition last year, I felt proud because we had the opportunity to band together as a cohesive group of passionate naturopathic medical students from all over North America. And in the end of the day and no matter who wins, we can take a moment to pause and celebrate what our respective schools have taught us and what we’ve taken the time to learn.
So how does it work? The NMSA convention happens once a year, usually the first week of September. It’s part of a three day conference where guest speakers present their material between rounds of competition for the cup. The rounds begin with all seven teams and gets slowly whittled down to two teams by the final day. At this point, everyone gathers in one room to observe the final round between the semi-finalists. The stakes are higher and will determine the winner of the NMSA cup for that year.
Tryouts for the team are held early in the year at which time you’re delightfully reminded of how much information you’ve forgotten in your past few years of studying. Then comes out the memory cards and team practice sessions for hopefully a few months before the competition. Between the schedules of soon-to-be graduates, residency interviews, exams and work schedules, it’s a bit challenging to find a time to meet as a team. A few weeks before the competition, you might decide this should be a priority and you’ll found yourselves studying amongst laughs and jokes in a basement at the Bastyr clinic.
Overall, being a part of the NMSA trivia cup was a fantastic experience, one I would encourage any competitive-minded individual to pursue before they graduate. The time commitment is whatever you choose to make it and rallying together as your school team is a rewarding and exciting experience! See you at the NMSA convention, 2017!
-By Lydia Peters
About Lydia Peters:
Lydia Peters is a fourth-year naturopathic medical student at Bastyr University (Kenmore, WA). She is passionate about evidence-based primary care medicine and enjoys learning about cardiovascular disease and women’s health. When she is not studying or preparing for patients, you will find her hitting the local ski slopes or planning the next outdoor adventure.