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Clinical Skills Competition: Student Reflections

Wednesday, December 19, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gabrielle Webster
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It has been two years in a row where a Pennsylvania School of Pharmacy team won the ASHP Clinical Skills Competition. Last year we had winners from the University of Pittsburgh and this year’s winners from the East Coast (of PA), among 139 teams, were Ashley and Brooke Barlow from Thomas Jefferson University College of Pharmacy! Additionally, the University of the Sciences team consisting of, Kayla Askey and Karissa Chow, placed in the top-10! See the below narrative from Ashley and Brooke on their roller-coaster experience! Let’s keep the PA streak alive next year!!

Written By: Brooke & Ashley Barlow

We were honored to represent Jefferson College of Pharmacy at this years 2018 American Society Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) clinical skills competition. This was an interactive team-based competition for students to collaborate with one another in analyzing a patient case to practice their clinical thought process. The competition was designed to mimic real-world pharmacy practice. Students practice delivering comprehensive disease-state management efficiently under time restraints and use their communication skills to collaborate with health-care professionals. This year by engaging in this experience, we learned the valuable lesson in working together as a team, Together Everyone Achieves More. Herein, we describe our experience and highlights from the competition. 

Out of 139 schools, we were a dedicated team of two that collaborated in creating a patient care plan consisting of a prioritized problem list, treatment goals, recommendations for drug therapy, monitoring, and follow up.  This years interesting case was of a young man with untreated HIV complicated by pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia. With only two hours to solve this complex case, we knew we had to manage our time efficiently to keep a fast pace. Our first strategy was to work together as a team to identify the patients problems, then divide up the work and put trust in each others strengths to best solve them. After developing a strong background in infectious disease from her last rotation, Ashley devoted her time to the primary problem to design a personalized HIV treatment regimen. This was no easy task, however she identified the need to overcome adherence barriers and selected a single-tablet, once daily regimen tailored to patient-specific factors. Brooke was committed to optimizing medical management for his chronic comorbidities, identifying medication-related problems, and recommending primary preventative measures such as vaccinations. We utilized drug information resources (DiPiro, AHFS Drug Information®, Lexi-comp®) and referenced relevant clinical practice guidelines to construct an evidence-based treatment plan. After diligently working through the case, we spent the remaining minutes double-checking our work through screening for drug interactions, therapeutic duplications, or dosing errors, just as we would on our therapeutics exams. 

Once this round was completed, we put our hands to rest and anticipated the next morning for the announcement of the top 10 finalists. During the interim it was nerve-wrecking and easy to get stressed, but we remained optimistic and promised all that matters is that we gave it our best. After hearing we were selected into the top 10, we jumped in joy but knew the challenge of presenting our case to a panel of judges awaited ahead. As the teams were gathered together to await our turn on stage, this was a wonderful opportunity to learn about one another and take time to engage. Although everyone in the room was considered a competitor, after getting to meet everyone it was evident that we were all in it to win it together. When it was our turn, we felt our nerves kick in but were pleasantly surprised to walk into a supportive crowd and a panel of smiling judges. This helped us deliver our care plan with confidence, knowing this was our chance to demonstrate our therapeutic knowledge. During the question and answer series, our knowledge was challenged on various clinical topics such as hepatitis B, pharmacogenomics of HIV treatment, and drug-drug interactions. Formulating answers was a collaborative effort, and we recognized the fundamental component to excel in this portion was placing trust in each other. Once the competition came to an end, we took a moment to reflect on the valuable lesson we gained throughout this journey. This competition helped facilitate our transition into the next phase of our professional career, by giving us greater confidence in our skills optimize patient care. For all the great memories and lessons we learned, no matter the outcome, we were simply happy enough to have made it this far. But in the end, the true moments of happiness we enjoy the most are best when taken by surprise. 

"Creating a picture worth a thousand words you can keep, can help you reflect on all you are able to achieve."

We hope each and every student reading this article takes the opportunity to engage in this rewarding experience. No matter how far you advance in the competition, with each round you can walk away with a valuable lesson to contribute to your future professional development. We have to admit we would not have succeeded this difficult challenge on our own, we couldn’t have done it without our peers, professors, family, and friends providing us encouragement from the crowd and at home. 

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