Abilene Team Wins School of Pharmacy Clinical Skills Competition

Caitlin Burton and Nicole Buzzard

Caitlin Burton and Nicole Buzzard

Nicole Buzzard and Caitlin Burton, fourth-year pharmacy students (P4s) on the TTUHSC Abilene campus, beat nine other teams Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 to capture the School of Pharmacy’s 2018-2019 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (AHSP) Clinical Skills Competition title. The annual event features two-member teams from each School of Pharmacy campus and is conducted by the Texas Tech Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (TTSSHP or Double T), the School of Pharmacy’s ASHP student organization chapter.

Amarillo campus P4s Neely Hudson and Nikki Moreno took second place and Dallas campus P4s Lydia Girgis and Vanessa Moreno finished in third place. Abilene campus P2s Rebecca Stark and Kaeli Faires won the P1-P3 team category.

Buzzard, who hails from Round Rock, Texas and plans to pursue an ambulatory care or geriatrics residency after graduating in May, said she and Burton begin competing in clinical competitions just for fun during their second year of pharmacy school.

“We loved the idea of reinforcing our knowledge in the competitive environment and the thought of winning definitely drove us in our preparation,” Buzzard said.

Burton, a New Braunfels, Texas native, hopes to complete a one-year residency and specialize in either psychiatry or geriatrics. As a team, she and Buzzard have placed in four of the five competitions they’ve entered.

“Last year, we competed in the ASHP Clinical Skills Competition and made it to final round,” Burton said. “We feel this helped to ease our minds in preparing this year because we knew what to expect and how to prepare.” 

Burton said her and Buzzard’s preparation included practicing cases from last year’s competition and participating in other similar contests.

“We also made sure to review the pharmacology of agents we recommended in our treatment plan before the presentation section of the competition,” Burton said. “That helped us make sure we knew the evidence to reaffirm our clinical decisions.”

The win advances Buzzard and Burton to ASHP’s national Clinical Skills Competition where they will compete against pharmacy school teams from across the country. The national contest is scheduled for Dec. 1 at ASHP’s Midyear Clinical Meeting in Anaheim, California.

“We can’t contain our excitement about winning the TTUHSC competition,” Buzzard said. “We are humbled and honored to have won and even more motivated moving forward as we will be representing our school on the national level.” 

Burton said clinical competitions are a fun way for students to learn about unique topics and reaffirm their knowledge before they become practicing pharmacists. She said the contests frequently challenge students to consider why they would chose one clinical decision over another and gives them an opportunity to practice the presentation skills they may need during clinical interviews. For the national competition, Buzzard and Burton plan to continue reviewing material, practicing their presentation style and working on ways to maximize their allotted presentation time.

“The ASHP competition specifically is a timed event that provides a little pressure, which helps in developing time management and also in communicating with your partner,” Buzzard added. “Each competition has a specific style, so we like to look at old rubrics and see what they were looking for to help guide our thought process.” Caitlin Burton and Nicole Buzzard

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TTUHSC at Abilene

TTUHSC Abilene

Students at TTUHSC at Abilene receive a comprehensive, practical education spanning a broad range of health issues.

Home to the School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy and Department of Public Health, TTUHSC at Abilene prepares students for a health care career through hands-on training in clinical and research settings.

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School of Pharmacy


The School of Pharmacy was established in 1996 and now has campuses in Amarillo, Lubbock, Dallas and Abilene. Since its inception, the school has played a significant role in addressing the state's pharmacist shortage. Today, more than 90 percent of its graduates remain in Texas.

The school requires its students to complete more clinical training hours than any other pharmacy program in the country, making its students some of the most sought after graduates.