The preparation. The suspense. The drama. The intense dorkiness of it all. No, there’s nothing like the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
This year’s contest was another nailbiter. With Akeelah and Morpheus out of the picture, the field was wide open. But as the rounds progressed and the contestants fell, two figures emerged: Evan O’Dorney of Walnut Creek, California — and Nate Gartke of Edmonton, Alberta (and no, we didn’t know Canadians could compete in the National Spelling Bee. Maybe the judges couldn’t spell his last name and just let him participate out of embarrassment).
They could memorize words like no others … but their knowledge of medicine would decide their fate.
Throughout the bee, medical words were deployed to winnow the field. In Round 2, for instance, it was easy: “Muscle.” “Physician.” “Defendant.”
By round 4, “Poliomyelitis” had cropped up. As had “Hirudiniasis” (we hope the contestants asked to use the word in a sentence, and received something like, “There is no fate worse than hirudiniasis“).
In the final rounds, with Nate and Evan locked in fierce combat, medical terms were the crucible. In round 12, Nate misspelled “Coryza” — a word we see almost every week. And, for the win, Evan correctly spelled “Serrafine” in Round 13.
What’s a serrefine? The online medical dictionary defines it as:
“…a small spring forceps used for approximating the edges of a wound, or for temporarily closing an artery during surgery.”
We see these all the time but never knew. Heck, we showed a bunch to our surgery colleagues, who proclaimed, “Those are bulldogs. That’s all they’re called.” And that’s what we called them too — until now.
And we can thank home-schooled son of a transit operator — Evan O’Dorney — whose knowledge and acumen won the day. He has a bright future ahead of him, in whatever career he chooses. But we hope he recognizes his distinct aptitude for medicine.