Three pharmacy students from the University of Rhode Island took first place in the Clinical Pharmacy Challenge hosted by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) this past October.

The event took place from Oct. 20 to Oct. 23 in Seattle, Washington. Sixth-year students Alex Chernov, Aidan Fischer and Andrew Webb were picked to represent the University at the conference and won the championship, marking this as the first time URI has won the competition.

The trio was picked through a sample test distributed by the ACCP and proctored by a URI facility member. Chernov, Webb and Fischer scored the highest out of everyone who took the exam, which allowed them to represent URI at the competition.

For Webb, the win was special and turned out to be a very pleasant experience. “It was awesome,” Webb said. “It was pretty incredible to be able to progress through all the online rounds and then finally make it to nationals and, somehow, make it all the way to the finals and win. It was pretty surreal.”

Fischer found that the event stressed him out because of its importance. “The competition’s super nerve-wracking,” Fischer said. “You go up on stage in front of 100 or so people. I’m looking out there and I’m like any one of these people could be my future boss so I don’t want to embarrass myself.”

The trio has been preparing for this event for a few months, and Fischer emphasized that the team pushed hard in an effort to be well prepared and rounded.

“I made a spreadsheet in June,” Fischer said. “I put each of the categories out and asked, ’How do we feel about each one of these?’ For each person and whichever ones we weren’t strong enough in, somebody either volunteered to study that or I assigned it. We tried to be as well rounded as possible in that respect. That also served us very well.”

What ended up becoming a big help to the three students was each of their different experiences working in different medical fields. “We all took different rotations so we’ve been hospitals since May,” Fischer said. “We have all those experiences we can draw on. We all had different experiences which was super helpful.”

Representing the school in a positive manner meant a lot to these students, as they knew they could help it achieve national recognition.

“It’s nice to bring the school to a national level and I feel like a lot of work that went into preparing us beforehand,” Webb said. “Being able to actually showcase the hard work that all our faculty and everybody put into us as students is pretty incredible.”

Webb is also very gracious to the faculty for everything they’ve done for him as a student. “I can’t thank the faculty enough for always putting in extra time and putting in the passion to make sure that we’re well prepared whether that’s an exam, a rotation, or in this case, a national competition,” Webb said.

The challenge of the event is what drew Webb to give it a try. He thinks the event is a great way to showcase critical knowledge and was a beneficial experience overall.

“It’s a good way to have a focused way of studying, learning something new and really challenging yourself to be able to stretch your knowledge to the limit,” Webb said. “I wanted the challenge. It really paid off, it was just such a great learning experience for all three of us.”

For Fischer, the opportunity to test his knowledge and learn something new was what drew him to this event. “I’m super passionate about pharmacy,” Fischer said. “My perspective on it is that I’ve always been interested in the practice of evidence-based medicine and statistics. My favorite thing to do is learn. There is an absolutely immense amount to learn for pharmacy and this competition actually facilitated a lot of that. I just wanted to learn more.”