Would you prefer to sit through a 3-hour history lecture or take in Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code? Now, the two have been combined. At Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, we’ve Organized a didactic for Residents on Psychiatry’s Historical Evolution Utilizing a Scavenger hunt (ORPHEUS).

Orpheus was a legendary musician in Greek mythology and one of the most significant figures in Western culture. Orpheus is portrayed in countless forms of art including poetry, opera, painting and now, medical education.

This novel approach to teaching the History of Psychiatry replaces the traditional lecture format and involves organizing a scavenger hunt on the campuses of Rutgers University. In 2007, material from our PowerPoint presentations was synthesized and transcribed onto 12 “scrolls.” Each scroll summarizes an era of psychiatry from the times of Hippocrates (scroll 1) to modern day genomics (scroll 12). Three teams of residents embark on a search for the scrolls over a 4-hour scavenger hunt. Each scroll must be read carefully, as it contains a clue to where the next scroll will be found.

If you’re able to complete the course, you will have acquired the basic knowledge traditionally provided in PowerPoint presentations. As a matter of course, ORPHEUS promises better retention of the material as well as a more enjoyable experience as our American Psychiatric Association (APA) poster demonstrates.