In September and October 2019, the well-respected scientific journal Elsevier organized the ClinicalKey Global Challenge for the first time, which was open to all medical or biomedical students worldwide. UCR student Samantha Scharringa, who is in her second year of the Pre-Medical program and is following a Minor in Psychology, was among the 2,600 students who entered into the competition, and finished in the top 10%.

She stumbled upon the challenge via an ad on Instagram, after having used ClinicalKey for her Functional Anatomy course. ClinicalKey gives you access to famous and more advanced medical textbooks, which often have better pictures or color codes.

She signed up and went through three rounds of 25 questions, which each had to be answered within 25 minutes. The questions were multiple choice and based on clinical cases across many different medical fields. Though much focused on pathology and patient background history, there were also questions related to basic physician knowledge and psychology, which surprised Samantha: “It was a relief, since I am taking Psychology as a Minor, and those types of questions were oddly specific, such as symptoms of major depressive disorder, common treatment medications, or other symptoms of common mental health disorders.”


Due to the speed at which questions had to be answered, Samantha felt she had less time to get distracted, and was forced to eliminate the wrong answers immediately. Though she was unsure about her success in round 3, she made it into the top 10% and thus to round 4, for which she had to hand in a video answering questions about Leadership in Medicine. This video was judged by a panel of physicians, and though she did not end up making it into the final, she was happy she made it that far.

It also made her realize that being a ‘pre-med’ does not necessarily mean a disadvantage compared to ‘actual’ medicine students. As she says: “Of course it was very intimidating to go against students from world famous universities such as Johns Hopkins, but I think you just have to go with the flow. I totally recommend any student – pre-med or not – to look beyond textbooks and classrooms for knowledge and experience. There are other global challenges such as this one, and what a better way to challenge yourself on how much you know than to join? You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain!”

The ClinicalKey Global Challenge will be held again in 2020. You can read more and sign up here.