Skip to main content

Student News


Counseling Coogs

Local Win Sets Mirjamali on Course to Represent College in National Competition at APhA Meeting in March

Pharm.D. candidate Sara Mirjamali claimed her second consecutive win in the UH College of Pharmacy Patient Counseling Competition, which puts her on course to once again represent the college in the national competition at the 2019 American Pharmacists Assocation Annual Meeting & Exposition March 22-25 in Seattle, Wash.

More than 70 UHCOP students participated in this year's local competition in which students are rated by a panel of judges on how well they advise a patient — in this case, a "standardized patient actor" or who has a "script" of comments and questions — on his or her new prescription medication. In a video-recorded counseling session, each competitor is rated on aspects of communication skills, such as presenting accurate information in a logical order, and professional competence, such as clearly identifying the medication, indication, dosage, missed doses, side effects and other facts as well as confirming the patient's understanding of the information.

In a unique twist, Mirjamali's younger sister, third-year Pharm.D. student Melissa Mirjamali, was the second-place finalist. Rounding out the top 5 places were fellow third-year (P3) students Abigail Wright (3rd), Sabrina Ali (4th) and Lakshmi Pillai (5th). The remaining top 10 finalists were, in alphabetical order, Callie Downs (P3), Erin Montejo (P1), Emily Neale (P2), Lauren Overstreet (P3), and Jenson Varughese (P3). 

Mirjamali, who has now competed in the event all four years of her Pharm.D. education, said she was excited to represent the college at the national level among her elite peers.

"Being less than three months away from graduation has made me realize how important proper counseling is in both inpatient and outpatient settings," she said. "What we say and the way we say it can truly make a difference in a patient's therapeutic success once they leave the hospital or the pharmacy counter and it is a responsibility of ours that we should take very seriously.

"I believe being on rotations and routinely interacting with patients played a huge role in this win and I am grateful for the preceptors that gave me the opportunity to continuously improve my communication skills." 

Mirjamali, who has now competed in the event all four years of her Pharm.D. education, said she recognizes how her comfort level and knowledge of counseling techniques have progressed over the years, especially during her final year of advanced pharmacy practice experiences.


"I am currently on my advanced community rotation at Walgreens and taking every chance I get to provide medication counseling to a diverse group of patients," she said. "The invaluable experiences I have had in the past year have made me not only more prepared, but more confident going into the national competition. I will do my absolute best in representing our college and hope I will have good news to share when I return!"