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UTHealth psychiatry residency team wins second national MindGames

From left, UTHealth's Connie Zajicek, M.D., Melissa Allen, D.O. and Garima Arora, M.D. hoist the trophy after winning the 2012 MindGames competition. Photo by David Hathcox.

HOUSTON – (May 17, 2012) – A live Jeopardy-style finale ended with a resounding victory for the psychiatric residency team from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in the 2012 American Psychiatric Association MindGames Competition.

Melissa Allen, D.O., chief resident; Garima Arora, M.D., third-year resident; and Connie Zajicek, M.D., fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry, answered questions such as “what is the term for recalling a thought as having already been thought of in the past when in fact the thought is new?” (Answer: Déjà pensé). It was the second national victory for a team from UTHealth. This year’s competition, which pits psychiatrists from residency programs around the country against each other, was held during the APA’ s national meeting in Philadelphia.

“This clearly puts UTHealth on the national map as a center of extraordinary training in the field of psychiatry for residents,” said Vineeth John, M.D., associate professor and director of the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UTHealth Medical School. “Winning a competition of this caliber twice is a true reflection of our program’s commitment to the highest quality of education. The psychiatry residents at UTHealth are a fun-loving, hard-working group who blend compassionate care and intellectual curiosity. Melissa, Garima and Connie delivered an electrifying performance at the finals thanks to their firm grasp of the subject material and excellent team work.”

The three team members credited the learning environment at The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatric Center as a factor in their success.

Teams from Columbia and Cornell fall to the UTHealth team during the 2012 MindGames competition.

I want to thank all of the residents and staff for their support. A special thanks to Dr. John for his constant encouragement and to Melissa and Garima for their unrelenting dedication," Zajicek said.

“Being in the Mind Games final competition was an amazing experience, but emerging as the winning team was really the icing on the cake,” Allen said. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of such a supportive residency program and our team owes a huge thank you to all of our faculty and staff who worked so hard to make the MindGames competition a success."

The months-long competition began with 90 teams across the country. The three finalists, UTHealth, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center, met in the finals May 8. Teams were quizzed on psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, geriatrics, addictions, forensic psychiatry and psychiatry in the media.

"It was smashingly fun and a great privilege to be able to represent UTHealth at a showcase APA event,” Arora said. “There was definitely considerable anxiety and excitement leading up to the big event. But I think it was the camaraderie and demeanor of our team that carried the day....and of course the sartorial splendor of orange likely had its own influence! The real credit goes to a great program that emphasizes good will and dedication to our profession; it's always the people who make the difference."

Deborah Mann Lake
Media Contact: 713-500-3030