YAKIMA, WASH. – Student pharmacists from the Washington State University (WSU) College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) placed third in the annual Student Pharmacist Compounding Competition (SPCC) held March 16-17 in Adventura, Florida.

The WSU CPPS Yakima compounding club was one 18 teams from pharmacy programs across the U.S. competing for the national prize. Each team was comprised of three students who worked together over the course of two days to apply theoretical and practical techniques to trivia, innovation and compounding challenges. The WSU team was made up of class of 2021 Doctor of Pharmacy candidates Minwoo Park, Zhanhuang (Anthony) Huang and Albert Ngugi.

The student pharmacists worked as a team for the innovation poster presentation, compounding of 3 products and Jeopardy portions of the competition.

“We all had our unique strengths,” said Park. “Zhanhuang (Anthony) is excellent in calculations, therefore completed the calculations portion. Albert is very detail oriented and has excellent hand writing, he completed the remaining majority of the compounding record.”

Huang also competed independently during the Compounding Challenge, the ”lightning round” of the competition, which was hosted in a reality-TV-style and aired online via Facebook Live. During the event Huang was tasked to create an appropriate non-sterile dosage form, based on a non-descript physician’s request. This is a fairly common occurrence in compounding pharmacy, especially when an alternate form may make dosage easier. For example, a compounding pharmacist may create a medicinal lollipop for a child who is unable or unwilling to swallow pills.

According to Park, one of things that interests him most about compounding is this mixing of ingredients into new forms. “It’s like working in a kitchen, except we can’t taste our food,” he explained.

To prepare for the competition, the WSU student pharmacists shadowed weekly at Medicine Mart in Yakima, an experience which Park said aided in their competition preparation and allowed them to gain hands on experience in compounding medications.

They also routinely met with Pharmacotherapy Teaching Fellow Emily Darst to review everything from laboratory technique to United State Pharmacopeia (USP) guidelines regulating compounding. Darst shares the role of faculty advisor for the compounding club with Pharmacotherapy Clinical Assistant Professor Damianne Brand-Eubanks, who accompanied the students for the trip to Adventura for SPCC.

The competition is co-sponsored by MEDISCA, MEDISCA Network and LP3 Network, to promote the compounding pharmacy community and expose student pharmacists to high-quality compounding practices.

Taking part in SPCC allowed the students to learn more about compounding and practice their skills while obtaining national recognition. Reflecting on the experience, Park said, “I think creating a medication from scratch and understanding why certain components are used is important in being a well-rounded pharmacist.”