Imagine that you only have seconds to answer the following question: Which of the following medications used for rapid sequence intubation can inhibit cortisol synthesis? a) Etomidate b) Ketamine c) Propofol or d) Succinylcholine. This is the type of question that is asked at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Clinical Pharmacy Challenge, which is a national pharmacy student team competition.
Across the country universities hold local competitions to identify their strongest competitors. The Student College of Clinical Pharmacy hosted the competition at Pacific and 11 three-member teams competed. Pacific will be represented at the national level by Dilraj Sohal ’17, Claire Kim ’17 and Cindy Hsieh ’17.
Eligible teams compete in up to four online rounds. The top eight teams advance to the live quarterfinal competitions, which will take place at the ACCP Annual Meeting in Hollywood, Florida, October 22-24, 2016. The competition has three sections. The trivia/lightning round consists of 15 true-false questions. The questions cover the subjects of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenomics, biostatistics and health outcomes. The second segment is a clinical case and participants answer five questions after reviewing the clinical case vignette. In the final portion of the competition, students answer questions covering a wide range of topics that relate to clinical pharmacy. The format of the final portion is similar to Jeopardy and teams are asked questions that belong to five specific categories. These five categories are selected from a larger group of topics ranging from endocrinology to vaccinations.
For pharmacy students the competition is a unique and interactive way to assess their knowledge. “I saw it as an opportunity to really learn and challenge myself as a pharmacy student, so I took the opportunity and ran with it,” said Hsieh. “I also liked the idea of exploring different aspects of pharmacy.” She elaborates that the competition is a good way to “see if clinical pharmacy is something you love doing.” Sohal agrees, “It helps you test the material you learn in class and see if you can actually use reasoning to apply the knowledge to situations that may arise. I am hoping for a career in clinical pharmacy and figured this would be a great way to test my knowledge.” William A. Kehoe, MA, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, department chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and professor of pharmacy practice and psychology adds, “This competition requires high level pharmacotherapy knowledge. I think the preparation is really important and will help them in patient care settings.”
Sohal explains that the fast paced environment forces you to rely on your instincts. She adds that the way that the competition is structured teaches you to trust your teammates as you work collaboratively. Hsieh adds, “I think that working in a team helps you realize your strengths and weaknesses. When you go into the clinical field you are in essence working as a team.” Dr. Kehoe agrees, “These kinds of opportunities give them a chance to solve problems by working together.” He explains that today’s health care professionals work in teams with each individual contributing their unique skill set.
“Without a doubt, the health care world involves communicating with many different health care providers, whether it be nurses, doctors, physicians or other pharmacists,” said Sohal. “Working as a team in a competition demonstrates the importance of being able to communicate with people who may think and do things differently. It allows you to be able to listen to others while also giving you the confidence to apply your own knowledge in order to make the best clinical decision.”
As the competition advances the difficulty and complexity of the questions increases. Dr. Kehoe says, “You would not believe the level and depth of the questions they will face in the next few rounds.” In 2011, Pacific’s team advanced to the quarterfinal round and was among the top eight teams in the country. Dr. Kehoe remembers with pride, “What I recall most was walking around and hearing so many ACCP members talking about the strength of the Pacific team.”
Hsieh believes that one of the factors that contributed to the success of her team was their mentality going into the competition. She elaborates, “We went into it with a mindset that we wanted to win.” As a team they spent time preparing by studying, doing research and taking practice tests. Both Sohal and Hsieh encourage students to participate in the future. Sohal exclaimed, “Definitely something to try out with some friends!”
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold