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Respiratory therapy students headed to National Sputum Bowl


Gull Life Editor

Breath in. Breath out. Deep breaths of joy and excitement filled the lungs of the winning team from SU at the Maryland Sputum Bowl last month.

The winning team was comprised of seniors Carlos Kim, Azka Riaz, Herson Hernandez and Abiy Woldeyohannes, who are a part of Salisbury University’s satellite respiratory therapy program at the Universities at Shady Grove.

“We prepared a lot for the competition,” Kim said. “We met several times over the summer and distributed different parts, like one member would study about drugs or ventilation and they would answer questions about that during the competition.”

With a win in this jeopardy-like competition the team is headed to Tampa for the 38th National Sputum Bowl during the American Association for Respiratory Care’s conference.

“We are nervous but really excited,” Kim said. “We have a lot of pressure because this is our third time winning but we haven’t won the overall ball and we have a lot of pressure to do well.”

Sputum is a miture of saliva and mucus that is often coughed up from the respiratory track therefore the Sputum Bowl is appropriately named after this substance that respiratory students are very familiar with.

The Sputum Bowl was held during the Conference by the Sea, a conference that brought together students and professionals in the respiratory therapy and care industry in Ocean City.

Kim also saw this participating in the competition as a way to improve his future in the medical field.

“It is definitely forcing us to study more and gives us a lot of opportunity to study on our own,” Kim said. “We reviewed past subjects and also new things and that will not only help us in our future but also with the rest of our schooling.”

The satellite students have an unconventional learning environment as they listen to lectures over a Skype-like system, but that hasn’t stopped them or hindered them from continuing their winning streak.

“It’s tough when professors are on the other campus,” Kim said. “But I’m very lucky to great classmates who get involved as much as they can.”

To push participants to expand their knowledge and skills set, topics from the National Board exam were included in the competition. This was a preview of what is to come when the seniors go to take this exam after they graduate this summer.

Another SU team competed in the Sputum Bowl and was equally happy about their experience at the competition.

Senior Kimberly Johnson used the conference as a place to network with professionals and attend workshops.

“It was optional to go to the conference but we all went to both the conference and the competition,” Johnson said. “So for our professors and future employers they saw we had extra motivation and cared a little more than other students who didn’t participate in the conference part.”

Before the competition, each team submitted 50 questions so teams knew how to prepare for some of the questions, but in order to succeed throughout the competition, participants needed to do a lot of studying to ensure their overall success.

The Sputum bowl brought out strengths and weaknesses in each participant who competed.

“Working with our teammates we all had our stronger subjects so when one subject came up during the competition we were able to rely on each other to answer questions,” Johnson said. “We all had our strengths and weaknesses and we worked well as a team.”

With one team advancing to the national round, SU will be proudly represented in Tampa at the National Sputum Bowl.

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