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Hospital medicine: the card game

Some friendly competition, just in time for the holidays

December 2017

IF YOU MISSED OUT on buying the “Doctor Wars” board game, you’ll have to wait a few years. Hospitalist James Fulmer, MD, the game’s creator and a member of the family business that designed and marketed it, says the board game is being refined and will eventually be released in a new edition.

But just in time for the holidays, the company’s Doctor Wars Hospital Card Game is available for $24.95 on Amazon.

As Dr. Fulmer explains, the card game is for anyone age 10 and older, and you don’t need a medical background to play. For those with a medical background, the game includes in-jokes; one of the doctor cards, for instance, is for “Dr. Knowitall,” an internist who lists “marathons” and “carving wooden flutes” among his “likes.

“Doctors love competition.”

~ James Fulmer, MD

Players choose patients to treat, each with a range of diagnoses, and they score more points by treating more complicated medical problems. Players have to collect (or trade for) the right doctor and cure cards, and the one with the most points—scored by racking up the most patients and cures—wins.

You can play a Grim Reaper card “if you think your opponent is about to take a very high-point patient,” Dr. Fulmer says. The Super Nurse card “is a surprise card, so I won’t give it away. I’ll just say that it’s the most powerful card, and it allows you to cure people a lot faster than if you don’t have it.”

Dr. Fulmer initially considered creating a cooperative game, “but then I thought, ‘Nah!’ Doctors love competition.” The idea for the original board game came to him in a dream, right around the time—2000—that he began working full time as a hospitalist. At the time, Dr. Fulmer likened his practice of moving patients around the hospital (and the hospital’s hierarchy of clinicians) to a chess game. It took him and his family 10 years to nail down the board game rules, design, trademarks, production and distribution. The card game debuted this year.

Surprisingly, Dr. Fulmer says he’s not a big game player. But he has always had some kind of creative outlet, and he’s deep into his next project: recording the stories he made up for his children when they were little, complete with character voices, to eventually produce a weekly podcast.

“I don’t know anything about podcasts,” he points out, “so that’s something else I’ll have to learn from scratch.”


Published in the December 2017 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
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