UK pharmacy students win first-ever national championship


A team of students from the UK College of Pharmacy won the 2017 Clinical Pharmacy Challenge. Drew Spargo, Zach Haffler and Jordan Rice competed in the final round against University of California San Francisco.

Sarah Hale

The room was indescribably tense as the competitors waited to hear the final question of the 2017 Clinical Pharmacy Challenge.

“You could see it on everyone’s faces because we all knew it came down to this,” Jordan Rice, a member of the UK team, said. 

The opposing team was from the University of California San Francisco.

Rice’s teammates were Zach Haffler and Drew Spargo.

“Our team just looked at each other and said let’s try our best… and it worked out,” Rice said.

It did indeed. The students, representing the UK College of Pharmacy, won the 2017 Clinical Pharmacy Challenge for the first time ever.

This national competition that occurs among pharmacy schools is presented by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.

The challenge consists of teams of three pharmacy students who compete in a seven-round competition, each consisted of three different segments: Trivia/Lightning, Clinical Case and Jeopardy-style items.

The UK team was mentored by College of Pharmacy faculty Robert Kuhn and Abby Bailey. The team alternates were Samuel Fu and Chase Ayers, who were able to compete in the early rounds. The team also received help from clinical faculty and specialists.

The UK team advanced to the finals out of an initial 115 teams. The competition against the University of California-San Francisco came down to the last Jeopardy question.

Rice said she felt nervous when the weekend of the competition first started.

“But as the weekend went on it was just more so exciting,” Rice said. “There were so many UK pharmacists there; it was great to have that support.”

Past teams from UK’s College of Pharmacy have made it either within the top eight teams or to the quarterfinal rounds three out of the last five years, but this is the first national championship for UK students.