Student Team Makes Top Four in ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge

Published on 18 November 2019

P3 student Eric Zhang and P4 students William Miller and Chris Thai were part of a team of St. Louis College of Pharmacy students that finished among the top four teams in the nation during the Clinical Pharmacy Challenge held as part of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Annual Meeting in New York City.

As the top three scorers of a challenge-qualifying exam administered to professional level students at the College, Miller, Thai and Zhang formed the team that would represent the College throughout the challenge.

“I’m very proud of the team and how far they were able to advance,” stated Sara Richter, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and faculty advisor for the team. “It was exciting to watch them work together and use their individual strengths to make the team stronger.”

The competition, consisting of various segments of quiz-bowl style questions and problems, began with four rounds of online matches narrowing competitors down to the top eight teams who competed in live rounds during the meeting held Oct. 26-28.

“I really enjoyed working with William and Eric,” Thai explained. “I was initially unsure how we would mesh together, but we actually communicated and worked well together. When we were unsure of an answer, we would discuss it, then defer to whomever felt the strongest about their response."

The team prepared for the online rounds by dividing topic areas to study, going through old competition questions and reviewing class notes in areas where they felt less confident.

“We relied solely on our studies and materials at the College to advance as far as we did,” Miller stated. “We had seen everything we needed to know at some point in class. As a result, I felt very prepared and was more aware than ever of the high-level education we’ve received.”

After competing against more than 120 teams throughout the nation in the online rounds, the team advanced to the quarterfinal live rounds in New York City.

“I was very surprised when I found out that we had made it to the live rounds,” Zhang said. “I don’t think any of us expected it. It was a unique experience and I really appreciate the support that faculty members and other students at the conference provided.”

During the quarterfinal round, the team narrowly triumphed over South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions to advance to the semifinals.

“The quarterfinal came down to the last question,” Zhang explained. “We were neck and neck through the last section. We were up by 100 points going into the final question which was worth 300 points. We knew we had to buzz in first to try to get it right. Both teams ended up getting it wrong, but it was a tense moment.”

“The match was so close that it would have been difficult to cope with a loss,” Miller added. “Getting the win was really gratifying and showed us that we deserved to be there.”

The team then faced off against the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the semifinal round, where they eventually lost. Their opponent would go on to win the entire challenge.

“I’m proud of what William, Eric and I accomplished,” Thai said. “While I was disappointed we didn't proceed further, I am content with where we ended up and proud that we were able to represent the College in a positive light on a national stage.”

While they didn't finish first, the team still marvels at how far they were able to progress in the competition, and they are amazed by the experiences they shared through the process.

“This was an experience I will never forget,” Miller concluded. “We accomplished our goal to make it to the live rounds and I had an amazing trip with friends and colleagues that ultimately strengthened my love for pharmacy.”

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