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Acutely Competitive

UHCOP Team of Crowley and Dreucean Breaks Through to Top 10 Finalists in ASHP National Clinical Skills Competition

The powerhouse clinical duo UH College of Pharmacy Pharm.D. candidates Stephanie Crowley and Diane Dreucean are celebrating the achievement of a long-standing goal: Advancing to the top 10 finalists in the 2018 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists National Clinical Skills Competition.

Crowley and Dreucean have been among the highest achieving UHCOP students in the competition at the local and state level since their first year. The team has won their class division each year in the local UHCOP competition, as well as the statewide title in their P1 year and an honorable mention in their P2 year. With their local wins in their P3 and P4 years, Crowley and Dreucean won the privilege of representing the college in the national competition.

All of the competitions operate on a similar format, but the specifics of the national competition involve students being given a case file containing the patient’s symptoms, laboratory results, and background and history, including any current medications and alcohol/tobacco use. The students must then develop a written Pharmacist’s Care Plan that includes identification of the patient’s most urgent as well as longer-term problems, with therapeutic goals, recommendations for therapy, and monitoring parameters and endpoints for each identified problem.

The top 10 teams that advance to the final round must make an oral presentation of their plan in under 2 minutes, followed by an 8-minute question and answer period before a panel of three judges.

Dreucean and Crowley take a moment to relish their advancement to the final round at the ASHP Meeting venue in Anaheim, Calif., before making their oral presentation.

"It wasn’t as intense as we were anticipating, probably because we had experience doing it last year," Dreucean said. "It was funny because we were joking right before we got the case that if it was HIV, we’re sunk… and then we opened the case file, and it was HIV. I think among pharmacy students, 99 percent don’t like HIV because it’s so complicated, even though we get a really good foundation in it at UH – probably more than a lot of other schools."

Crowley said they took a very strategic approach to their preparations, including timing their care-plan development and oral presentation while using only the official resources and reference materials and asking a faculty member to review and give feedback on their care plans.

"That was a really important step for us as (third-year students) because we would have been fumbling around had we not done that," Crowley said. "The oral presentations are in an open forum, so we stayed to hear the presentations from the other teams in the top 10 and picked up some tips. Also, at the end of the competition, the case writer goes over the case and the rubric, which gives a better idea of what they were looking for and where you lost points.

"So for this year’s competition, our preparation strategy was based more on looking back over last year’s case and making sure we focused on areas where we missed points and not be concerned about areas that weren’t even graded."

Although they didn’t make it out of the final round, Crowley and Dreucean said they weren’t too disappointed as they achieved their goals of making it to the national level in their P3 year and advancing to the top 10 in their P4 year.

"It as a huge accomplishment; when you look at the teams that made it to the top 10, a lot of them are very seasoned teams from schools that regularly make it to the finals," Crowley said.

And they went home with more than pride in their performance: Finalists receive an iPad pre-loaded with a pharmaceutical resource app, $25 gift card and choice of ASHP resource publications.

"It is a competition, but in the end, the point is to have fun and gain experience in what you’re going to be doing on rotations and as a clinical pharmacist," Dreucean said. "The big takeaway that Stephanie and I always tried to take away from these cases was not so much winning or not, but what did we learn about XYZ disease state and how can we apply this to patients in the future?"

And their hard-earned efforts are likely to pay dividends in the next stage of their careers, as both Crowley and Dreucean are hoping to land pharmacy practice residencies after their graduation in May 2019.