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Pharmacy Majors Put Knowledge into Practice

Catherine TaylorFifth-year pharmacy majors Catherine Taylor and Samantha Cunningham understand the importance of putting their clinical knowledge into practice. Taylor, from Powell, Ohio, and Cunningham of Adena, Ohio, proved their pharmaceutical prowess in Ohio Northern University's Clinical Skills Competition. Not only did they win the local competition, they secured a spot at the National Clinical Skills Competition in Orlando, Fla.

The ONU chapter of the Students' Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP) sponsored the event on Oct. 14. Eight ONU teams competed locally, but their skills were pitted against pharmacy students from across the nation.

Dr. Kelly Shields, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and advisor to SSHP, coordinates the local event: "Students are given a standard case, and they then have two hours to research and write their recommendations. They're then video-taped and evaluated by a panel of judges."

The competition is a practical way for pharmacy students to test their counseling skills, of which Taylor says: "It's becoming more common to see counseling in the retail pharmacy setting, so even if you're not planning to work in a hospital, this is a really useful skill."

"This type of presentation is good preparation for rotations, and a good review for modules," Cunningham adds.

As fifth-year pharmacy students, both Taylor and Cunningham are working through their therapeutic modules. Next year, they'll complete nine professional rotations in various pharmaceutical settings.

Taylor and Cunningham represented ONU in the National Clinical Skills Competition, held Saturday, Dec. 6, as part of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting. ASHP is the umbrella organization for SSHP.

In Orlando, the pair faced 97 teams from universities across the country. The format was the same, just more intense. The first day was the written portion, after which the top 10 teams advanced to present their findings. Although Taylor and Cunningham did not place in the top 10, the experience was validation enough.

"I think the competition helps students in two ways," Shields explains. "First, it gives them confidence in dealing with patients and reinforces skills learned. Also, it gives them a chance to compare their pharmacy training on a national level."

Written by Autumn Steiner
Senior, professional writing
Bluffton, Ohio