A  team of three North­eastern phar­macy stu­dents took first place in a national clin­ical phar­macy chal­lenge, besting stu­dent teams from 90 other U.S. schools of phar­macy in a test of their clin­ical knowl­edge and ability to solve com­plex patient cases.

Sixth-​​year phar­macy stu­dents Matt Lord, Libbi Rice and Adam MacLasco passed through four online rounds in August and Sep­tember to win the chance of com­peting in the finals on Oct. 20–22 in Hol­ly­wood, Fla. The chal­lenge was part of the Amer­ican Col­lege of Clin­ical Pharmacy’s annual meeting.

In the quiz-​​bowl format, stu­dent teams faced three kinds of chal­lenges com­prising trivia/​lightning rounds, a clin­ical case com­pe­ti­tion and a “Jeopardy!”-style con­test. The chal­lenge cov­ered a range of health topics, including oncology, pedi­atrics, geri­atrics and trans­plant medicine.

The North­eastern phar­macy cur­riculum really pre­pared us for this com­pe­ti­tion,” Lord said.

The North­eastern trio has been friends since freshman year, and the stu­dents cred­ited team chem­istry as a crit­ical factor in their ability to work together to com­plete the tasks. They also attrib­uted their suc­cess to their edu­ca­tion that has com­bined class­room learning with real-​​world experience.

Rice noted that each team member’s strengths shined through in the com­pe­ti­tion. For instance, she said the team dis­tin­guished itself on the last day of the com­pe­ti­tion during one round in which stu­dents were pre­sented a case involving a patient hos­pi­tal­ized with a trau­matic brain injury. Prior to the com­pe­ti­tion, MacLasco had just com­pleted a six-​​week rota­tion at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital’s car­diac surgery inten­sive care unit, an expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity that helped the team for­mu­late a com­pre­hen­sive response to a life-​​threatening condition.

The infor­ma­tion and sit­u­a­tions I encoun­tered during this rota­tion were unlike any­thing pre­sented while in classes,” MacLasco said.

Lord and Rice, for their parts, also ben­e­fited from their expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties. Lord com­pleted a co-​​op with the phar­ma­ceu­tical com­pany Novartis, and Rice fin­ished an internal med­i­cine rota­tion at the Vet­erans Affairs hos­pital in West Rox­bury, Mass.

John Devlin, asso­ciate pro­fessor of phar­macy at North­eastern and the team’s advisor, said he was impressed with the per­for­mance, adding that the com­pe­ti­tion gave the phar­macy stu­dents the chance to grade them­selves against the nation’s best.

The con­tent in the chal­lenge was far beyond what sixth-​​year phar­macy stu­dents often face,” he said. “These were tough ques­tions, and the judges were amazed at how much our stu­dents knew.”