Student Pharmacist Selected ‘Top 10’ in National Competition
April 15, 2019
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
“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. Jayden 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
“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
Other students and faculty members who attended the conference included:
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, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
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. For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500. 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 pcomgeorgiahealth.org.
For more information, contact: Barbara Myers Senior Public Relations Manager Email: BarbaraMy@pcom.edu Office: 678-225-7532 | Cell: