Nakoasha Dillard (PharmD ’21) was recently named a finalist in a patient counseling competition at the 2019 APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Nakoasha Dillard (PharmD ’21) was a “Top 10 Finalist” in the 2019 National Patient Counseling Competition held at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting and Exposition March 22-25, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. A PCOM School of Pharmacy winner, Dillard represented the school in the competition where 133 other pharmacy students competed.
“I was happy to bring this award back to PCOM and show other students that no matter where you think you are with your skill level, you should take any opportunity that presents itself, get the most out of it and grow from the experience,” Dillard said.
To prepare for the competition, Dillard practiced with Dr. Jiehyun Lee, PharmD, BCAP, CACP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, who gave her direction and feedback.
Dillard described the experience.
“You’re given information about the competition via a webinar about a month before the conference, along with a list of drugs to study. The day of the competition is the most nerve-wracking because you enter a conference room at your appointed time and there are your other competitors.”
“You smile to be polite, but inwardly you’re a nervous wreck and wondering how you even got there. Once your name is called, there’s another room with lights and cameras and now you know it’s real.”
“Once again, the rules are explained, you pick a random folded piece of paper, and then you’re left alone—it’s just you, the cameras and the patient actor.”
“Once the clock starts, you have five minutes to gather your thoughts using the provided resources, and five minutes to counsel the patient—explaining general drug information: what the medication is for and how to take it, what side effects to expect, missed doses and how to store it.”
“Once the time runs out, that’s it, and you’re instantly relieved.”
From this round, the top ten are selected. Dillard explained that a second round involves a more “difficult” patient.
She noted that the competition is “only a small snippet of the conference as a whole.” She also experienced leadership training and networking with potential employers, pharmaceutical companies and with students from other pharmacy schools.
Dillard is an Albany, Georgia, native who graduated from Albany State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. After graduating, she worked at a specialty clinic in Albany as a community navigator and linkage coordinator. She began taking courses to complete her master’s degree but she said she knew this was not the end career goal for her and contemplated becoming a pharmacist, nurse practitioner or completing a PhD in research.
While working at the clinic, she attended a dinner hosted by a pharmaceutical company. A pharmacist gave a presentation and she said she knew that pharmacy was the profession for her.
“The world of pharmacy had become more than just retail and hospital and I knew then I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
She studied for the Pharmacy College Admission Test, applied to pharmacy school and was accepted, completing the last few classes of her master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Global Health during her first year of pharmacy school.
“My classmates here encouraged me, motivated me and kept me focused so I could finish that degree,” she said.
Currently she serves as the chair of the Student Organizations Council (SOC) and policy vice president of APhA-Academy of Student Pharmacists (ASP). Next year, Dillard will serve as the vice president of the Pharmacy Student Council, a second term as policy vice president of APhA-ASP, and as the pharmacoeconomics research chair for ISPOR – an organization for pharmacy students interested in industry and research.
Dillard has career interests in specialty/clinical, ambulatory care, and industry and hopes that her involvement in various organizations and networking events will help her choose a career path.
With a passion for the minority population in underserved communities, Dillard said, “My overall goal in life is to touch as many lives as I can. I find joy in improving health disparities by educating others on issues that directly affect them.”
“I’m open to wherever the opportunities take me and to help bring change for the future of pharmacy.”
Other students and faculty members who attended the conference included:
Laura Nguyen (PharmD ’22), Nandi Rosier (PharmD ’21), Brandon Dang (PharmD ’20), Allison Rowell (PharmD ’20), Arrington Mason-Callaway (PharmD ’20), and Brent Rollins, PhD, RPh, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice.
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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