Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy Student Places in Top Tier of National Competition

March 5, 2024

A second-year student at the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy aims to become the country’s best in a national competition for patient counseling.

Makenzie Chapman, a P2 from Aiken, recently placed in the top 10 during the second round of the American Pharmacists Association’s patient counseling competition and will compete for the top prize against other students from across the nation later this month.

Chapman earned her way into the final competition after beating out fellow PCSP students and then going up against representatives from other regional pharmacy schools via Zoom.

Students compete by counseling hypothetical patients who are prescribed new medicines or treatments. Future pharmacists like Chapman explain to their “patients” what they are taking, what it is designed to do, and what to expect, including side effects.

“That’s the whole basis of patient counseling – making sure the drug is safe for them to take, why they’re taking it, and how to take it safely,” she said. “During the competition, you get a new prescription and a new patient, and then you get five minutes to look at their profile, their health conditions, and the research, and then five minutes to counsel them on how to take their medication.”

Chapman explained that competitors are graded on a counseling rubric that emphasizes effective communication with patients more than actual drug knowledge.

“The information on drugs is important to communicate, but what they’re looking for is your interaction with the patient,” she said. “Are you able to relate to them? Are you able to explain what you’re saying in patient-friendly terms?”

As Chapman readies herself for the final competition at the APhA’s annual meeting on March 22 in Orlando, Fla., it begs the question – how does one train for a patient counseling competition?

“I have been practicing,” she said. “They gave me a list of 10 drugs to consider, so most of the insecurity about the drug profile and side effects is taken away. The emphasis is really on how you talk to and relate to people.”

Chapman also credits coaching from assistant professor of pharmacy practice Dr. Katie Peacock.

“She’s been letting me come to her office and practice with her,” Chapman said. “She gives me test prompts, one being an inhaler, so I can demonstrate how to use it as if she’s a patient.”

Peacock is confident that Chapman will be ready for Orlando and, more importantly, for a future in pharmacy.

“We are incredibly proud of Makenzie; she’s a shining star in the PC community,” Peacock said. “Her qualification to compete on the national stage is a testament to her commitment to patient care. Makenzie exemplifies the future of healthcare – a compassionate professional ready to make a positive impact, one patient at a time.”

Already, Chapman is making a difference as she prepares to enter her chosen profession. In addition to her studies, she is the vice president of the Class of 2026, president-elect of the Pharmacy Student Government Association, and the chair of the local APhA chapter’s Operation Heart. She is also an intern in the pharmacies at Spartanburg Medical Center and Publix.

At heart, Chapman enjoys working with people. Finding a place where she can learn and grow as a professional in a personal setting is what attracted the North Greenville University graduate to PCSP in the first place.

“I loved how small (NGU) was and how I got to know my professors and how they invested in me,” she said. “I saw the same thing here at PC.”