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Respiratory Care Students Capture Sputum Bowl Trophy

Oct. 28, 2013 | In the final round of the statewide quiz bowl-like contest for respiratory care students known as the Sputum Bowl, the team from the program in the UAMS College of Health Professions held a lead — but still managed to have its coach holding her breath.

The UAMS team of Lynli Carlin, Lesli Nanny and Alicia Harper join team coach and respiratory care faculty member Theresa Gramlich with their Sputum Bowl 2013 trophy.

The UAMS team of Lynli Carlin, Lesli Nanny and Alicia Harper join team coach and respiratory care faculty member Theresa Gramlich with their Sputum Bowl 2013 trophy.

In that round, teams could lose points for incorrect answers. Theresa Gramlich, assistant professor in the program and the team coach, hoped the three-student team would sit on their lead and not make any guesses but then team buzzed in after a question.

“I thought my heart would stop, I’m sure they could tell by the look on my face,” she said, laughing about the situation because the team wound up answering correctly to increase their lead en route to the team trophy.

The annual Sputum Bowl, held in September at the state meeting of the Arkansas Society for Respiratory Care, is a tradition in Arkansas and across the country. The UAMS team of Lynli Carlin, Lesli Nanny and Alicia Harper brought home the team trophy along with some individual trophies. The team qualified to compete at the national competition, to be held in November in Anaheim, Calif.

“I always competed in quiz bowls when I was in high school so this has been something I really wanted to do since I started the respiratory care program,” said Harper, a senior in the program from Little Rock.

Teams from six of the 10 respiratory care programs in Arkansas respond to questions in content-specific categories by ringing a buzzer. If correct, the team earns a point. If incorrect, the opposing team has an opportunity to answer the question. During the final two-minute penalty phase, teams lose a point for incorrect responses.

The contest is named for the mixture of saliva and mucus coughed up from the respiratory tract.

Gramlich said the team gets together prior to the competition to practice, using a list of questions from previous Sputum Bowls.

“The competition is a fun way to pick their brains and the questions really do encompass everything they’ve learned from the first day of the program — from basic care to critical care to disease management,” she said. “I’m very proud of the team this year.”

Harper said she became interested in respiratory care in part because both she and her brother dealt with asthma while growing up.

“It’s a very specialized field and I really enjoy direct patient care,” she said.

UAMS has the state’s only bachelor’s degree program in respiratory care with two satellite locations in Batesville and Texarkana. The program garnered national praise earlier this year from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care as a high-performing program with low student attrition, exemplary job placement records for graduates and high pass rates on both the RRT and certified respiratory therapist examinations.