Students from Physician Assistant Institute win state Medical Challenge Bowl: big win for “new kids on the block”

A group of students from the Physician Assistant Institute (PAI) answered simple and complex questions requiring clinical information, skill, and strategy to win the highly competitive Connecticut Medical Challenge Bowl, which is held annually at the Connecticut Academy of Physician Assistants (CONNAPA) Conference.

Their victory against the Yale and Quinnipiac teams during the Jeopardy-style competition brings the trophy to UB, where for the next year it will be displayed at Eleanor Dana Hall, home of the University’s PAI program.

The PAI team was represented by Will Bennett, Nora Trachtman, Cynthia Perez, and Jason Cornelio, as alternate. They will next compete against 100 other college teams at the National Medical Challenge Bowl, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Physician Assistants and will be held in Boston on May 25.

“This was our second year in the Challenge Bowl, and for the new kid on the block, this was huge!” said PAI Director Dr. Daniel Cervonka.

In addition to the PAI win, students from the Class of 2014—Latha Anakondada Revakala, Hannah Farrel, Cassie Pettit, and Patrick Stroh—presented research posters at the CONNAPA dinner.

The PAI at UB launched in January 2011, but the PA profession dates back to the 1960s, when medics returning from the Vietnam War were trained so they could continue working in health care. At the time only one in three did so. Admission is heavily competitive: only 40 students were selected out of almost 550 applicants.

Today, an estimated 75,000 physician assistants work in hospitals, clinics, and other health care centers throughout the U.S. Responsible for a full spectrum of duties, from conducting medical exams to developing patient treatment plans in all fields of health care, from emergency medicine to surgery, internal medicine, and primary care.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,