A team of students from the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC made a major comeback to defeat four other California physician assistant student teams at the annual California Academy of Physician Assistant (CAPA) Challenge Bowl.

Physician assistant (PA) program students Andrew Luna, ’18, Nicole Galle, ’18, and Sarah Nargiso, ’17, were quick on the buzzer and exact in their answers, helping them redeem themselves in the wild card round after losing in the first bracket during the tournament, held Oct. 8 in Palm Springs. In the end, they defeated student teams from Stanford University, Loma Linda University, Marshall B. Ketchum University and Western University of Health Sciences, winning the Challenge Bowl trophy and a check for $250.

PA faculty members Christopher P. Forest, MSHS, PA-C, assistant professor of clinical family medicine and director of research for the Physician Assistant Program, and Jennifer Ramos, MPAP, PA-C, clinical instructor of family medicine (clinician educator), led the team. The group trained for months and spent hours practicing along with alternates Jie Zhuang, Dane Arispe and Matthew Tan. The final score was USC 30, Marshall -10 and Western 10. The cheering section of alumni, fellow students, staff and faculty rushed the stage to congratulate the winning team.

“This team was a pleasure to work with,” Forest said. “They not only studied medical topics from their first year, but they studied book chapters of material that they hadn’t covered in their classes yet. I’m very proud of them, not just for winning, but for their character, dedication and how they collaborated as a team.”

This is the fifth time USC has won the trophy in the last eight years.

— Claire Norman