TTUHSC Team Advances in Clinical Research Challenge

TTUHSC AmarilloSecond-year School of Pharmacy students Princy John, Leia Gaddis and Ahmaya Mustafa first dipped their collective toes into the waters of the American Colleges of Clinical Pharmacy’s (ACCP) Clinical Research Challenge by entering the competition’s local round in 2018. Though they didn’t win, the experience paid off Jan. 30 when the trio teamed up again and took home first place in the local round of the 2019 competition.

By winning the local round, John, Gaddis and Mustafa advanced to ACCP’s Online Journal Club competition Feb. 11 to compete against other pharmacy school teams from across the country. Because they finished among the top 40 teams in the online journal club round, they advanced to the second round of ACCP’s National Clinical Research Challenge. If they place among the top 20 second-round teams, they will move into to the third and final round, where they will draft full research proposals that will be evaluated April 22-June 8. ACCP will announce the winners June 10.

“This novel competition is targeted towards pharmacy students in their first two years of their first professional pharmacy degree program where they critically evaluate primary literature, which is an essential skill for clinical pharmacists,” Assistant Professor Ashley Higbea, Pharm.D., said. 

The 2019 local round included seven three-member teams from the School of Pharmacy campuses in Amarillo and Dallas. The Amarillo teams included Justin Contreras, Anthony Fernandez and Luis Molina; Daniel Casas, Andrew Nolte and Kevin Tran; Karl Reymundo, Canice Eshiebor and Irvin Alvarez; George Lee, Nauman Zia and Pardeep Kaur; and Khanh Tran, Jiffy Phillip and Trinh Le. Omar Alanis, Mark Riofta and Lou Leano represented the Dallas campus.

John said she, Mustafa and Gaddis entered the 2018 competition as first-year students because they were curious and they wanted to challenge themselves. This year, they felt more comfortable because they had an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

“Looking back from the last time we took part, I feel I have learned more about clinical research and I was able to understand it better this time,” John said. “I also feel I had teammates who knew the concepts better, so all of these factors enabled us to win and we are honored to see the results of our effort.”

As first-year students, the trio depended upon what they had learned in their drug information and statistics classes. For their second-year competition, Mustafa said the notes they took during clinical literature and research classes taught by Associate Professors Irene La-Beck, Pharm.D., and Carlos Alvarez, Pharm.D., provided the bulk of their prepartion material.

“Preparing for the ACCP Clinical Research Competition is important because as future pharmacists we will need to analyze clinical literature to make informed decisions regarding patient care,” Mustafa said.

Gaddis said the competition drives home the important role teamwork plays in patient care and helps the students evaluate study results, which also will benefit their future patients.

“Competitions, in general, help to solidify our knowledge base,” Gaddis added. “They help us realize we know more than we think we do.”

John said the competitions, and the preparation that occurs beforehand, reminds her of a quote from renowned motivational speaker Zig Ziglar: “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.”

“Competitions help us to apply and practice the knowledge or skills we learned in class,” John said. “The more we expose ourselves by participating in these events, we not only improve on our skills but also get comfortable dealing with patients and other health care providers.” 

John said preparing for, and competing in the ACCP competition also will provide benfits during her thrid and fourth years of pharmacy school. During those years, she and her classmates will be required to make presentations for for journal clubs and grand rounds by dissecting and explaining the methods used during a given research project and then discussing whether or not the findings are applicable in a clinical setting.

Gaddis agreed and said having a solid understanding of clinical literature will only make her a better pharmacy student and professional health care provider.

“Having a good knowledge and skill base in clinical lierature will aid us in evaluating and answering questions put forth by physicians and other interprofessional health care team members with whom we will be working,” she said.

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