UM Pharmacy Places First in Formulations Competition

Ole Miss team places sixth overall in national Student Pharmacist Compounding Competition

Emily Lewis (left), Mary O’Keefe and Alexandria Gochenauer, all third-year student pharmacists at UM, placed first in the formulations portion of the eighth annual National Student Pharmacist Compounding Competition and sixth overall. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A team of three students from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy placed first in the formulations portion of the eighth annual National Student Pharmacist Compounding Competition and sixth overall, in what was Ole Miss’ first-ever appearance in the competition in Aventura, Florida.

The team consisted of third-year student pharmacists Alexandria Gochenauer, of Republic, Missouri; Mary O’Keefe, of Edwardsville, Illinois; and Emily Lewis, of Valley Park, Missouri.

“This is outstanding, especially for our first competition,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “I’m very proud of these students’ drive to excel in compounding, which is such a vital part of pharmacy.”

For the formulating part of the contest, the team came up with a recipe to create two prescriptions selected for them by the competition. The three students determined the appropriate amounts of each ingredient, wrote out the process for combining them and provided information about the chemicals they were using.

Gochenauer organized a regional competition beforehand to engage other students in learning more about compounding. Even with that experience, the team acknowledged that they didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect from the national competition.

“Having never done it before, and having no previous pharmacy students to ask, our team tried to prepare as best we could by looking at how the regional competition went and ways we could have improved there,” O’Keefe said.

As part of the national competition, the team also came up with an innovative pharmacy idea and answered pharmacy-related questions in a game show-like challenge, all of which contributed to the team’s sixth-place finish out of 17 teams.

“This competition opened my eyes to the impact a pharmacist can make in the world of compounding,” Lewis said. “It definitely increased my ability to think creatively on my feet and confirmed my passion for compounding.”

Each student agreed that they appreciated the opportunity to network with other students and faculty members, as well as work in a state-of-the-art compounding lab.

“I believe this competition gave me a revitalized view of how compounding can be integrated into the practice of pharmacy and produce patient-specific, and sometimes hard-to-find, medications,” O’Keefe said.

Erin Holmes, an associate professor of pharmacy administration, helped the team prepare for the competition, but said the students took the lead on every aspect of planning and practicing.

“I was impressed by the initiative and interest they took in the competition, as well as how dedicated they were to the time and travel involved during a busy semester,” Holmes said. “I am so proud, but not at all surprised, to see how well they placed in the national competition.”