Pharmacy Students Advance to National Competition

ASHP national clinical skills competition set for Dec. 7-8

Jennifer Hockings (left) and Laney Owings won first place in a local clinical skills competition in October.

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi pharmacy students have been selected to compete in a national clinical skills competition at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists‘ Midyear Clinical Meeting, coming up Dec. 7-8 in Orlando, Fla.

“Words cannot describe how excited we are,” said Jennifer Hockings, an Olive Branch native and student in her third professional year of pharmacy school. “This is one of the highlights in my pharmacy education so far. It is an honor to be able to represent the School of Pharmacy at a national competition.”

Hockings and Laney Owings, also in her third professional year of pharmacy school, are advancing to the national competition after being selected as winners of a local clinical skills competition in October.

The local competition consisted of 11 teams of two students in either their third or fourth professional year. The teams were given a patient case, with two hours to evaluate and develop a treatment plan.

Hockings and Owings received a case describing a 28-year-old female who was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

“We found it both challenging and fascinating to take a standard treatment regimen, then modify to best meet the patient’s needs,” said Owings, a Columbus native. “It was also challenging to know that we were up against fourth-year students who had more experience than us. We were also very concerned about questions that the judges would ask us during the oral session. However, we decided ahead of time that we were doing this for fun, and to expand our experience and knowledge.”

Jay Pitcock, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, judged the written portion of the competition.

“Jennifer and Laney wrote the best plan by a third year pharmacy student team that I have graded over the past five years,” he said. “It exhibited all the qualities that one looks for in a treatment plan. I feel that their excellent written communication skills will carry them far in the national competition.”

Allison Bell, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, also judged the competition.

“Both Laney and Jennifer presented in a thorough yet succinct manner, clearly communicating the patient problems and treatment recommendations,” Bell said. “They did a great job answering questions regarding all aspects of the patient case. I expect them to perform very well at the national competition.”

Katie McClendon, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and ASHP chapter adviser for pharmacy’s Jackson campus, said she is proud of the winning team.

“I am very excited that a PY3 (third professional year) team was strong enough to win the competition,” McClendon said. “I think this shows that the problem-based learning process is great training for teaching how to develop and communicate pharmacotherapy plans.”

Owings and Hockings are studying together weekly to prepare for the national competition. They plan to review numerous disease states and cases from previous years.

Both students said competitions like these are learning opportunities and good practice for their upcoming careers in pharmacy.

“This competition requires us to prioritize our patient’s health issues and determine the optimal treatment options with socioeconomic factors taken into account,” Owings said. ”In many ways, this mimics real life and all the various factors that any pharmacist needs to consider when recommending therapeutic options for a patient.”

“Opportunities, such as this competition, allow us to practice those essential problem-solving skills that will be of great benefit in the future,” Hockings said.

The Mississippi Society of Health-System Pharmacists sponsors the local competition, providing travel expenses for the winning team. ASHP waives registration fees for the winning team.