School of
Pharmacy

UMKC pharmacy students, childhood friends reach semifinals of national ACCP competition

Run to the Clinical Pharmacy Challenge final four follows UMKC’s 2020 national championship

UMKC School of Pharmacy students Zach Carroll, Allison Baker and Austin Dockins have a certain chemistry with one another. After all, they’ve been together since what seems like forever.

It’s a connection that helped them make it all the way to the semifinal round of this year’s national Clinical Pharmacy Challenge sponsored by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.

“The three of us have been friends since elementary school so it has been fun to see how much we’ve learned over the years together,” Baker said.

They met as third graders at Mill Creek Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri. They graduated together from Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School. The three fourth-year pharmacy students even discovered a common interest working at the same local pharmacy while completing their undergraduate degrees.

“All of us enjoyed working there and we individually decided to apply to pharmacy school,” Dockins said.

It wasn’t until after each had submitted their applications to attend UMKC’s School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus, that the trio realized they would be continuing their college careers together while following similar career aspirations.

“We didn’t talk about applying to pharmacy school until after we all had submitted applications,” Dockins said. “We were all a little surprised that each of us had made the decision to apply, but we were excited to take on the adventure together.”

Earlier this year, that journey culminated with the three battling their way to the national semifinals of the annual AACP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge.

The competition pits three-person teams from pharmacy schools and colleges against one another in a quiz bowl–type format. It began in September with more than 90 teams from across the United States. Each round of the competition consisted of trivia/lightning, clinical case and Jeopardy-style segments with questions prepared by expert clinical pharmacy practitioners and educators.

“It’s been great to work together as a team,” Baker said. “Throughout school, most assessments are individual, so this has been a neat opportunity to collectively think through questions, use each other as resources and pull from our unique rotation experiences to answer questions.”

The UMKC team successfully navigated the first five rounds to reach the national semifinals before being eliminated from the competition. The trio credited their UMKC pharmacy professors for their preparation for both the competition as well as their future careers as pharmacists.

“Competing against intelligent students from prestigious universities across the country was a really neat opportunity,” Dockins said. “We feel very accomplished and proud that we were able to make it to the top four.”

Dockins said that he, Carroll and Baker have participated in team competitions as an opportunity to reinforce how much they’ve learned throughout pharmacy school.

“We really just compete to see how well we will do,” he said. “We don’t have huge expectations when entering, although each one of us has a bit of a competitive spirit. We know that each one of us brings something different to the table and we know each other so well that it’s easy to communicate during these competitions.”

Their sprint to the final four is the continuation of what is a growing legacy of excellence for the UMKC School of Pharmacy on the national stage. Last year, the UMKC team of Jamie Sullivan, Kathryn Rechenberg, and Brooke Jacobson won the Clinical Pharmacy Challenge national championship.

Published: Nov 4, 2021
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