Carilion Clinic: Virginia Team Brings Home National Championship.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Virginia Team Brings Home National Championship.

Pictured from Left; Linda Cochran, RRT; Chase Poulson, RRT; Jeffrey Bobbitt, RRT; not pictured, Linda Stone, RRT

A team from Virginia brought home a coveted national championship in December. The field of competition was not athletics, it was health care. The team of four respiratory therapists representing the Jefferson College of Health Sciences (JCHS), Carilion Clinic and Northern Virginia Community College won the 30th Annual “Sputum Bowl” competition at the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) Annual meeting on December 4th in Orlando.

While the name is intended to be humorous (sputum is defined as stuff you cough up – the trophy is a giant golden spittoon) the 30-year-old competition itself is quite serious. Respiratory therapists help people breathe, and are critically important health care providers. The competition focuses on improving clinical knowledge and decision-making skills.

“The questions that they ask you are very technical, its not trivia, there is a lot of application,” said Chase Poulson, who is a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) on the JCHS faculty. JCHS faculty member Linda Cochran, RRT, called the win “one of the biggest rushes of my professional career, above my degrees and getting my diploma.” The four person team also included Jeffrey Bobbit RRT, a respiratory therapist with Roanoke’s Carilion Clinic, and Linda Stone, RRT, an instructor at Northern Virginia Community College.

The road to the Sputum Bowl begins with state and regional competitions which culminate in the annual “Final Four” matches at the AARC national convention. The competition uses “Jeopardy-style” questions that would likely challenge the best Jeopardy players. This year’s finalists had to identify a picture of Amedeo Avogadro, the Italian physicist who developed Avogadro’s Law, which relates to the number of molecules contained in equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure. They also were asked to describe the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation (pH = pKa + log [base]/[acid]) which is used to measure acidity (pH) in biological and chemical systems. All of this to take home a replica of the giant golden spittoon (aka, The Sputum Bowl) and the bragging rights of a national champion.

“This is huge in the respiratory field,” said Bobbitt. “It really means a lot to us, we are national champs for one whole year.”