UMKC Pharmacy Students Win National Competition

Three UMKC Pharmacy students beat out more than 100 teams to win top title.
Three students standing with a trophy after winning competition

Fourth-year School of Pharmacy students Hannah Kempker, Claire Vogl and Rylee Pitts have been hard at work since September preparing and competing in the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s 2023 ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge.

The competition spanned several months with multiple rounds and culminated in UMKC going head-to-head with the University of Arkansas in the championship round in Dallas, Texas. After a tight race, UMKC won on the final question and took home $1,500 in prize money and a commemorative trophy.

Known for its “quiz-bowl” style, the challenge included rounds featuring general pharmacy trivia, a clinical case study and final jeopardy. Teams began their journey with virtual rounds, and only the top eight travelled to Dallas to compete during the annual ACCP Conference in November.

Once there, the competition heated up. Teams were expected to answer questions quickly, using a buzzer and going head to head.

“Online versus in-person rounds are a different game,” Kempker said. “Online rounds you have more time to think critically and reason through a question. In person, you have to rely on all knowledge from didactic coursework and rotations to quickly come up with an answer and stick with it.”

No stone was left unturned by the team during preparation for the competition, and it was an all-hands-on-deck effort.

“Generally, we looked through the ACCP pocket guide, the APhA review book and our old pharmacotherapy notes,” Vogl said. “We also tried to look at specific jeopardy categories as the rounds progressed, focusing on categories we hadn’t seen yet to prepare for the next round.”

Kempker added, “I think the biggest thing we did to prepare was to talk aloud our strategy.”

The three students keyed in on their blind spots and worked to fill in any gaps in expertise to be as prepared as possible.

“Because we are all close, we also know each other’s tendencies and hesitations, so that helped when we moved into the live buzzer rounds,” Vogl said. “One person might buzz for the other because we knew they might be more hesitant.”

Elizabeth Englin Pharm.D., served as the faculty mentor and traveled with the team to the Dallas competition rounds.

“It was so fun to watch them, and they were so strategic in their play,” Englin said. “You could tell that they were friends, and they work so well as a team…They’re just wonderful students all around.”

After the competition, Englin reflected on the high level of sportsmanship the team possessed.

“They did really well with the other teams,” she said. “They were congratulating, wishing luck and really got to connect with the other schools.”

The competition is just a feather in the cap of the students, who in their final year of pharmacy school are preparing for what’s next.

“I felt pharmacy gave me the best opportunity to combine my desire to impact others with a career that aligned with my personal interests and curiosity,” Pitts said.

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