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  • Group photo of the four leadership challenge winners.

    The winners of the 2023 Student Pharmacist Leadership Challenge Competition were, from left, Emmanuel Iruru, Dana Elder, Adam Siddique and Michael ToraƱo.

  • Competition winner smiling with her certificate and ribbon.

    Pharm.D. candidate Isabella Serrato won the student category of the TSHP Research & Education Foundation Research Poster Competition.

  • Varkey standing in a classroom and smiling into the camera

    UHCOP faculty member Divya Varkey, Pharm.D., M.S., was honored with the 2023 TSHP Pharmacy Mentor Award and as the Joyce A. Tipton Leadership Lecture presenter.

Sand and Success at TSHP

Students Win Competition Titles, Faculty Member Earns Mentor Award at TSHP Annual Seminar

May 10 — Sand and success were in the mix for students and a faculty member at the 2023 Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists Annual Seminar April 21-23 in Galveston, with awards in leadership, research, clinical skills and mentorship. 

Claiming its second consecutive title, a UHCOP team won the TSHP Leadership Challenge for its presentation for its proposals aimed at reducing vacancies/preventing turnover, boosting morale and job satisfaction, and expanding and diversifying career ladders within pharmacy technician ranks in a health-system setting. Among the team's intiatives were implementation of workflow changes to support decreased staffing in the sterile products area, a system-wide technician float pool, and a new pharmacy technician career ladder. These proposals would be implemented alongside a American Society of Health-System Pharmacy-accredited pharmacy technician training program and quarterly surveys to gauge technician morale.

This year’s winning team comprised Pharm.D. students Emmanuel Iruru, Dana Elder, Adam Siddique and Michael Toraño, with Elder, Siddique and Toraño as returning members of the 2022 winning team. 

Pharm.D. candidate Isabella Serrato won the TSHP Research & Education Foundation Research Poster Competition-Student category for her presentation, "Quality Improvement Project: Impact Of Pharmacist-Led Medication Reconciliation In The Pediatric Camp Setting." Serrato’s presentation was coauthored by alumni Briget Martinez, Pharm.D. ('07), BCPPS, MASPHM, DHR Health pediatric clinical pharmacy specialist/UHCOP clinical assistant professor, and Katy Oliveira, Pharm.D. ('21), DHR Health pharmacist.

Amrita Kanwar, Pharm.D., Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center PGY1 resident/UHCOP student in The Houston Program (THP), received an Honorable Mention in the poster competition’s PGY1 Resident/Fellow/Post-Graduate category for "Evaluation of rituximab prescribing patterns in a quaternary academic medical center." Project co-authors were alumna Kimberly Putney, Pharm.D. ('00), MPH, St. Luke’s Health pharmacy manager and Health-System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership Residency director, and Raymond Yau, Pharm.D., St. Luke’s Health clinical pharmacy specialist-liver transplant.

In the Clinical Skills Competition, Pharm.D. candidate Tien Pham was a member of the P4 Category first-place team.

Divya Varkey, Pharm.D., M.S., UHCOP clinical associate professor and THP program director, was honored with the TSHP Pharmacy Mentor Award. In their nomination letter, UHCOP's Kevin W. Garey, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, FIDSA, FCCP, and Matthew A. Wanat, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCCCP, clinical associate professor, praised Varkey's commitment and passion for mentorship toward students, alumni and colleagues alike.

"Ask anyone in TSHP or our profession about Divya and they probably have a positive mentoring story to tell you about how she shaped some aspect of their career or helped (them) through a difficult time in their life," Garey and Wanat noted in the letter.

In addition to the award, Varkey served as the invited speaker for the Joyce A. Tipton Leadership Lecture named in honor of UHCOP alumna, Dean's Advisory Council member and former THP advisory council member Joyce A. Tipton, R.Ph., MBA, FASHP. Current THP students/residents, alumni, and health-system pharmacists from across the state attended her presentation, "Self, Version 2.0".

THP alumnus Rodney Cox, R.Ph., M.S. (‘11), director of pharmacy and respiratory services at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, was installed as TSHP president. The meeting also saw the transition of Thomas Roduta, Pharm.D., M.S. (‘18), pharmacy operations manager at Houston Methodist Hospital, from Gulf Coast Society of Health-System Pharmacists president to immediate past president.

— Logan Linder