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Clinical Pharmacy Challenge

2021 ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge Winners – University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy

Written by: Madeline Droney, ACCP SNAC Member-At-Large

Kelsey Brasel
Thomas Lofy

Kelsey Brasel, Justin Ferek, and Thomas Lofy are fourth-year pharmacy students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy. They were selected by their school to join together and compete in the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Clinical Pharmacy Challenge (CPC) and succeeded in winning the national competition.

Getting to Know the Team

Where are you from?
Kelsey is from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Justin is from Carol Stream, Illinois. Thomas is from Slinger, Wisconsin.
Why did you choose pharmacy?
Thomas was on the fence about his career and decided to complete a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry to pursue research. His sister-in-law and grandmother encouraged him to investigate pharmacy as a potential career, and after shadowing an emergency medicine pharmacist at Frodert hospital he decided to go to pharmacy school. He appreciates how pharmacy works as a team and is right in the midst of the action in the emergency department.

Justin wanted to be an expert in medications and loved the vision of hospital pharmacists wearing their white coats and saving lives in the hospital through interventions. He appreciates how pharmacists are working behind the scenes utilizing their clinical knowledge and expertise to catch medication errors and mistakes that have the potential to cause harm. He also appreciates that pharmacists have limited interaction with bodily fluids.

Kelsey knew she wanted to work in healthcare, but did not want to encounter bodily fluids (similar to Justin). After shadowing some community pharmacists she fell in love with pharmacy. She values how pharmacists are heavily integrated in the hospital setting.
What are some unique or creative hobbies that have kept you busy during quarantine?
Kelsey has fostered a new love of baking, and keeps in touch with close friends with FaceTime.

Justin enjoys making homemade pizzas with friends. In the summer, he enjoys kayaking and disc golf.

Thomas is a major coffee-lover (as are all pharmacy students), and enjoys a good nonfiction book with a strong cup of coffee. In the summer he takes his books to his hammock outdoors, and he also enjoys kayaking with his family during the summers.


The ACCP Competition

How did you choose to work together on this team?
The University of University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy elected to host their local competition for the CPC as an individual competition, and the top 3 scorers formed the team that would advance to the national competition. The 4th and 5th highest scorers were selected as back-ups as well.

Justin, Thomas, and Kelsey stated that it all worked out in their favor, because they all have great chemistry together and came in as a finely oiled machine. They appreciated how their school organized the local competition because each of them brought different clinical skills and knowledge to the table.
What did you do to prepare?
For these students, they walked in to the local competition with their baseline knowledge from their didactic and experiential learning experiences. For the national competition, once the team was formed, all 3 team members and the substitutes went through the practice tests to get a feel for the types of questions they would encounter.

They also timed themselves to monitor their pace.
Kelsey pointed out that the practice exams helped them figure out who knew what so that they could trust each other’s clinical knowledge.

Justin pointed out that his experiential rotations were helpful for the national competition because they taught him how to apply his clinical knowledge to the competition. He also emphasized that it is important to have a method of agreement with the team, such as categorizing each question as either memorization or more of a critical thinking and discussion question. His reason for emphasizing a team agreement method is because time is a limiting factor in the competition.

Thomas echoed the other team members’ points, and emphasized that the group preparation sessions with the practice tests were helpful in working out the team dynamics and ensuring that everyone agrees with every question. He pointed out that his team member, Justin, kept track of which topics were covered in between rounds so that members could prep for potential topics in future rounds.
What tips or tricks do you have for future competitors?
For Thomas, his main advice is to keep a plan of attack when it comes to the questions and the time constraints. He also emphasized that it’s important to stay positive - if it’s a difficult question for your team it’s most likely a difficult question for the other team. Even if you get a low score it’s important to keep a level head.

Kelsey stressed that pacing yourself and having a standardized approach is important. She also pointed out that checking for pharmacy updates with subscriptions to national organizations was helpful, because some of the competition questions covered new drugs or new indications for drugs.

Justin advises students to look at the ACCP website and the Jeopardy categories and sort them as “What do you have experience in?” He emphasized that everyone has some foundational knowledge, and he added that it’s important to have team members that have experience in critical care or emergency medicine and pediatrics. He also pointed out that there will be random questions, so identifying those weak points ahead of time is important.
In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently to prepare?
For Thomas and Kelsey, they agreed that they wished they could go back and study the sections that they didn’t feel as comfortable with to get some baseline knowledge on more niche areas. However, it’s hindsight 20/20, because there is a fine balance between preparing for the competition and maximizing your time for rotations. Your time is spent more wisely on the major disease states and the guidelines, because a lot of the questions are guideline-driven.

Justin pointed out that a NAPLEX Prep book is a helpful tool to get a quick review on topics that aren’t taught formally in school.
Did you have a specific plan in choosing the questions in the Jeopardy round?
This team’s approach involved going category by category from the highest potential points to the lowest potential points. It allowed the team to not feel as much pressure when it came to the harder questions, because by starting with the more challenging questions they had more time to discuss and then move through the easier questions at a faster pace. This was especially helpful during a time crunch. Focusing on one category at a time also helped streamline the process.
Who was your most influential mentor?
All 3 members agree that their SCCP faculty advisor, Dr. Rotzenberg, was a huge support for them. Dr. Rotzenberg kept spirits high no matter what the score was, which helped the team members stay optimistic.

Thomas gave a special shout out to his preceptors on his emergency medicine rotation at Froedert, because they were gracious enough to let him complete some of the rounds while he was on rotation, and they were very encouraging.

Justin gave special thanks to faculty members Drs. Melissa Forbes, Jeff Fish, and Melissa Ha, because they helped him envision a succesful pharmacy career based on their methods of teaching and their embodiment of a stellar pharmacist.
What are your primary career goals?
All 3 members are pursuing a residency with an acute care focus and keeping their minds open about potential careers.

For Kelsey, she is interested in pediatrics, but is still looking for a well-rounded PGY1 residency.

Justin is most passionate about caring for patients in an acute care setting where pharmacy is embedded in the patient care team as a valued and respected team member. He also wants to work in a teaching hospital so he can mentor future pharmacists and pass along some of the lessons he has learned.

Thomas is primarily interested in emergency medicine and critical care, so he is looking at completing a PGY2 to specialize. Similar to Justin, he is primarily looking at academic medical centers.


    A special thanks to Kelsey, Justin, and Thomas for their time during this virtual interview, and congratulations again on your success and teamwork in winning the 2021 ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge this year! Best of luck in the future!

Clinical Pharmacy Challenge

2020 Clinical Pharmacy Challenge Winners - University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy

Written by: Adam Burkhard, PharmD Candidate 2021, The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy

Kathryn Rechenberg, Jamie Sullivan, and Brooke Jacobson of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy scored an impressive victory over Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy to earn the title of 2020 ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge champions. Although originally scheduled to take place in Dallas, TX, this year’s Clinical Pharmacy Challenge was hosted entirely online, posing a unique challenge to all participants of the competition. Rechenberg, Sullivan, and Jacobson navigated multiple rounds of the virtual tournament, eventually earning a seat in the finals. After their victory, the ACCP National Student Network Advisory Committee reached out to the competitors to ask a few questions.

How did you choose to work together on this team?
Sullivan: We are coworkers at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and we have known each other since completing our undergraduate classes at UMKC. When looking for a team of three, I knew that we would make a great team because of our diverse skill sets and our ability to work as a team.

Jacobson: We figured that we had such a good history of working together that being teammates would only make sense.
What did you do to prepare?
Rechenberg: Our preparation was really a culmination of the past three years throughout pharmacy school, clinical rotations, and work experience. If there were specific topics that we felt less comfortable with, we would review our pharmacotherapy notes and consult preceptors.

Sullivan: We did our best in the limited amount of time we had to prepare. We looked at the possible topics on the ACCP website and split the categories up between the three of us. We mostly used old class lecture notes and NAPLEX preparation materials to study. Prior to the quarterfinal round, we had a meeting with all of the UMKC ACCP advisors which really helped us feel more confident going into the last few rounds of competition. I think that our didactic education and experiential rotations at UMKC did a great job of preparing us for the competition.

Jacobson: In the beginning we each decided to review a few areas which we felt might need some extra refreshing. However, after the first couple of rounds, we mostly relied on our clinical knowledge obtained from our didactic coursework and APPE rotations.
What tips or tricks do you have for future competitors?
Rechenberg: I encourage everyone to participate in this competition! You won't know everything, but think of it as an opportunity to learn a topic prior to boards or patient care! Who doesn't love some friendly competition?

Sullivan: Have fun with the competition! It was stressful at times, but I will always remember how much fun I had competing with Brooke and Kathryn. I am glad we competed together because I think our level of trust and comfort with each other really helped us in every round. I also think it made a significant impact to have team members with different interest areas.

Jacobson: My biggest tip would be to make a plan. From the very first round of the national competition, we had a plan on how we would approach each section. This helped with the time aspect of the competition which was one of the more difficult parts to conquer. With each round we adjusted our plan as needed.
In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently to prepare?
Rechenberg: We tried our best to come up with a strategy to work under the time pressure and virtually. We would adjust our strategy throughout each round if needed, but in hindsight, the most important thing was to trust each other which comes from a prior friendship and work relationship. If one person felt confident about an answer, we would rely on them and this teamwork paid off.

Sullivan: Our team was not selected to compete in the national competition until the day of the deadline, so we really did not have much time to prepare before the online rounds started. I would recommend having your team set at least a month or two in advance so that you can have practice sessions or study sessions.

Jacobson: In an ideal world, we would have reviewed guidelines prior to the rounds. However, we were all so busy with rotations, projects, and work that this was not very realistic. Of course we all typically review guidelines during our rotations so this was of course very helpful.
Did you have a specific plan for choosing the questions in the Jeopardy round?
Jacobson: For the Jeopardy round, we picked a section (normally starting from the left) and answered the 300-point question first followed by the 200- then 100-point questions. We continued this pattern with every section. This ensured that if we were crunched for time, we were able to spend the most time on the questions worth more points.

Rechenberg: I was in charge of watching the clock and would tell them time's up, pick our most educated guess and move on to the next question.
Who was your most influential mentor?
Rechenberg: Dr. Englin, our chapter adviser, was a tremendous mentor. She was very encouraging and supportive along the way. Following rounds that we felt less confident about, she would remind us how far we had come to set new records in representing UMKC during this competition. We could not have done it without the constant support from Dr. Englin, faculty at UMKC, the staff at Children's Mercy Hospital, and family.

Sullivan: Dr. Englin - one of the SCCP faculty advisors. She was with us through every online round as our proctor and always provided encouragement and reassurance.

Jacobson: Throughout the competition, Dr. Englin was a wonderful mentor. She is one of the SCCP advisors at UMKC and was our preceptor for every round. Before each round, she was incredibly encouraging and was always so excited that we were continuously moving on. After each round she always made sure we weren't down on ourselves if we felt we could have done better. She was a refreshing face to see after completing such intense rounds!
What are your pharmacy career goals?
Rechenberg: I am in the process of pursuing a PGY1 pharmacy practice residency at an academic medical center. I plan to complete a PGY2 but currently unsure what clinical specialty. I am excited for what is to come!

Sullivan: I plan to complete a PGY1 residency, hopefully at a pediatric hospital, and then a PGY2 in pediatrics.

Jacobson: After graduation in May, I'm hoping to complete a PGY1. I'm undecided on which clinical route I want to pursue, but my interests include cardiology, critical care, and pediatrics. I will likely complete a PGY2 in one of these areas.
What was your favorite part of the 2020 ACCP conference?
Rechenberg: My favorite part was working together with Jamie and Brooke. We have worked and studied hard these past three years and this competition was the perfect way to reconnect during a busy rotation schedule, share our love of learning, and celebrate how much knowledge we have gained and will continue to gain during the rest of this year and on into residency.

Sullivan: I was interested in the pediatrics PRN session about anticoagulation!
What are some unique or creative hobbies that have kept you busy during quarantine?
Rechenberg: Lots of baking and researching new travel destinations to visit post-pandemic.

Sullivan: I bought a stationary bike and have been doing spin classes from home, and I've been baking more than usual throughout quarantine.

Jacobson: Unfortunately I didn't do too many creative or unique activities during quarantine as I probably should have. But during the summer I spent as much time outside as possible - taking our dogs on walks and taking our pontoon out on the local lake.