Students Clinch P1 Division Title in Clinical Skills, Honorable Mentions in Research Poster, Disease State Management
UH College of Pharmacy students collected several honors – including the P1 Division title in the Clinical Skills Competition – at the Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists' 2016 Annual Seminar April 22-24 in Frisco, Texas.
Clinical Skills Competition
First-year students Stephanie Crowley and Diane Dreucean were the winners in their division of the Clinical Skills Competition, which requires two-person teams to develop a therapeutic plan and recommendations based on a review of the patient's medical chart and consulting appropriate clinical/pharmaceutical references. Teams are scored based on their documentation, presentation and performance during a follow-up question-and-answer session.
"The case was definitely tough this year; our patient had multiple serious problems and complications, and her medication list was quite long," Dreucean said. "It was challenging to put together a plan with minimal drug-drug interactions that covered all of her disease states. I couldn't have done it without Stephanie. We each have areas of pharmacotherapy that we are more familiar with and split our cases so that we could maximize our time and effectiveness."
Disease State Management
Fellow Pharm.D. student Tracey Thomas received an "Honorable Mention" in the Disease State Management competition in which individual students review a patient's medical chart, meet with a "standardized" patient (a member of the three-judge panel), and document any relevant new information from the consultation and adjustments to the patient's care plan. The students are judged on their communication, interpersonal, education, documentation, clinical problem-solving and decision-making skills.
"After working up patient cases for therapeutics lab and case exam presentations, I feel like our professors have really prepared us to excel in this competition," Thomas said. "I encourage all students to take part of this competition next year. Not only do you get a chance to practice your clinical skills, but you really get to fine tune your personal communication and counseling skills. You have nothing to lose and you never know what you will learn. I am a hands-on learner so I always try to take part in competitions like these."
Research Poster Competition
Pharm.D. student Kaitlin Wasko, who currently serves as the president of the UHCOP Chapter of the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists, brought home an "Honorable Mention" certificate in the TSHP Research & Education Foundation-sponsored Student Research Poster Competition.
Coauthors of the study were UHCOP faculty members M. Jahangir Alam, Ph.D., research assistant professor, and project sponsor Kevin W. Garey, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, professor; Anana Anu, a University of Texas at Austin undergraduate student who works summers at the college; and Julie Miranda, B.S. (Biology '14), UHCOP research staff member.
Wasko's research project focused on an infectious pathogen that figures prominently in the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention's "Most Wanted List": Clostridium difficile (or C.diff). The bacterium is estimated to have caused almost one-half million infections in the United States in 2011, and 29,000 died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis. Those who were previously exposed to antibiotics and received medical care, especially older adults, are most at risk of C.diff infection.
Long identified as a hospital-associated/hospital-acquired infection, recent work by UHCOP researchers and only a few others is starting to turn a critical eye away from the inpatient setting to potential community sources. As part of this ongoing research, Wasko took more than 200 samples from 22 randomly selected parks in the Greater Houston area – specifically from "high-touch" and "low-touch" locations within the parks – and grew them in the laboratory.
Subsequent analysis revealed that 31 percent grew C.diff, with almost 70 percent of the colonies testing positive for the life-threatening toxins that wreak havoc on the infected patient's gastrointestinal system. The results indicate the ubiquitous presence of C.diff in parks, which lends support to the idea of developing more robust infection control strategies that start at the hospital’s front door.
Wasko's work on the project was completely voluntary as a personal challenge.
"One of the more specific goals I set for myself was to start and finish some sort of research project to gain some exposure to the more academic/research/laboratory side of the profession," said Wasko, who holds a B.S. in Chemistry. "I was fortunate enough to gain Dr. Garey's mentorship, and he really allowed me to immerse myself in the throes of bench top research. I feel as though this experience has very much contributed to helping me answer the ever-present, grandiose question, 'What kind of pharmacist do I want to be?'"
Although Wasko is undecided on a specific field of pharmacy as she prepares to begin her fourth-year advanced practice experiences, she said the research project has encouraged her to pursue a track that integrates clinical practice, laboratory research and teaching.
Student Section Executive Committee
In addition to the competitions, fellow students Dozie Dike, Manal El-Khalil and Lena Rakouki were installed on the TSHP Student Section Executive Committee (SSEC), which is responsible for developing student programming at the annual meeting, promoting statewide initiatives, and coordinating activities between the collegiate chapters and the statewide professional organization.