Winning the ASPS Residents Bowl: a Life-Changing Experience

by Ibrahim Khansa, MD & Jeff Janis, MD FACS

“B, palpable pulse”

Time seemed to screech to a halt after I uttered those words into the microphone. I stood up. Silence engulfed the room. I looked at the audience, divided into two bitterly competitive camps. Some faces on the Ohio State side of the audience displayed anxiety, others on the UT-Southwestern side looked up to the heavens in prayer. One face in the back of the room, strategically situated exactly in the middle between the two opposing audiences, flashed a hint of a smirk, and plenty of pride. Dr. Janis, my mentor, was clearly torn between supporting the program where he had spent most of his career, and the program where he had relocated two years prior.

It had been a suspenseful match. UT-Southwestern, the two-time reigning champions, had made a phenomenal comeback from 6 points down to tie the game at 10. One question remained. I remember thinking how eerily poetic it was for this epic match to come down to a tiebreaker. That final question: “In DIEP flap harvest, what characteristic makes a perforator worth saving?”

And here I was. A PGY-4 surrounded by chief residents, competing against the smartest plastic surgery trainees from all over the world, as far as Taiwan. Here I was, rushing to hit my buzzer before anybody else. A fraction of a second passed as I stood up, preparing to announce my answer. Images from my entire life flashed in front of me: my childhood in Beirut, Lebanon. My flight to the United States when I was 18 to study engineering. Those four years I spent in beautiful Boston for medical school. And my subsequent move to Columbus, Ohio, a city I had never heard of, to train at a program I knew was one of the best in the world. Here I was, with my three teammates, on the world stage, representing Ohio State. It took the moderator what felt like an eternity to announce the correct answer. The rest is history.

The ASPS Residents Bowl puts March Madness to shame. It is intense and fun. The people competing are some of the smartest people I have ever met. Every team we played on our path to the final match became our friends.

The teammates I won the cup with last year have all graduated, and moved on to become accomplished plastic surgeons all over the country. This year, I am coming back to compete with a brand new team. This time, however, we’re no longer that small program from the Midwest. We’re no longer that school better known for winning the inaugural College Football National Championship. We are Ohio State, the defending ASPS Residents Bowl champions, and we’re coming to Boston to make new friends, and defend our title.

Bring it on!
-Ibrahim Khansa, OSU Resident

The Resident Bowl, sponsored by PRS-Global Open, has certainly come a long way since it began.  For a little history, from my perspective as the Board Vice President of Education and prior Program Chair of the Annual Meeting for ASPS, the idea began a few years ago as a way to bring fun education to the exhibit hall at the Annual Meeting.  While we all know that the exhibit hall is an intrinsic draw to residents, fellows, and members of the Society, we came up with the idea to stimulate friendly competition between residency programs and put it in a venue where the matches could be witnessed by as many people as possible.  We had no idea that it would turn into such a popular event!

Over the years, the quality of the questions has improved, as has the quality and number of the team’s competing.  Last year’s competition, which involved teams from all over the United States and the world, was perhaps the most dramatic.  There were plenty of comebacks, upsets, nail biters, and photo finishes on who pushed their response buttons first.  The number of fans in the audience grew with every round, culminating in a literal throng of people wildly cheering on the teams.  The final round, which pitted the incumbent champions from UT Southwestern against the underdog, but upstart, team from Ohio State, had all the trappings of a made-for-TV movie.  To be honest, it was hard to remain impartial knowing the residents on both sides extremely well.  It was a moment of pride no matter what – all of these residents were exceptional!

At the end of the day, it is my strong feeling that everyone won.  That’s not a cop out, it simply the truth.  All of the competing teams displayed massive intelligence.  The finalists fought incredibly hard, going into overtime to decide the winner.  The Resident Bowl drew a massive audience and interest, and the competition stirred conversation which rippled throughout the meeting and beyond.  It is a wonderful opportunity to represent your program with pride, win or lose, and has elevated the status of the Resident’s Cup to a highly sought after trophy, not unlike Lord Stanley’s cup, that can get paraded around above your head and taken to the bottom of a swimming pool or out on the town, just like in NHL.  The winner’s name is forever inscribed into the lore of the Cup, and like the lottery, the only way to win is to play!  See you in Boston, and bring your A-game!

-Jeff Janis, ASPS Board Vice President, Education

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