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University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
Morning Rounds: Student Learning Opportunities over Coffee and Cases

by Kelsey VandenBerg, P2, Health-Systems Chair

At the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, we are strategically positioned in the heart of the Illinois Medical District and have the distinct opportunity of learning from top rated pharmacists who are just next door at the University of Illinois Hospital. Our professors frequently mention rounding on patients with a team of healthcare providers. This intrigues many students, yet we often do not get the chance to experience this until our fourth year rotations. Recognizing this opportunity for additional student learning, UIC’s student ICHP chapter, in collaboration with the college’s student chapter of ACCP, created Morning Rounds: Cases and Therapeutics, warmly deemed MRCaT.

The brainchild of practicing clinical pharmacists and successful student leaders, MRCaT was developed to be a stress-free learning environment for pharmacy students at all stages of training. The voluntary meetings take place every other Wednesday morning, and prior to the event, attendees receive a patient case with corresponding treatment guidelines for the relevant disease states. Students are also provided with a “P1 cheat sheet” that is tailored to the specific case to help less experienced students with acronyms, normal lab values, and medical jargon used. Sessions begin with a third year pharmacy student introducing the case, allowing these students the opportunity to try their hand at presenting a patient in a setting modeled after grand rounds. The clinical pharmacist in attendance is free to interject his or her thoughts at any point, which may include comments on the format and clarity of the SOAP note or posing directed questions to drive home a principle. 

The pharmacist leads the discussion once the patient is presented, guiding the attendees through their evidence-based approach to the case and development of a pharmacotherapeutic plan. During this process, the patient’s pertinent lab values and medical history are discussed, and relevant disease state information is reviewed. The proposed assessment and plan are subsequently evaluated. Students in attendance have the opportunity to learn how the pharmacist would proceed with the case in a patient-centered manner and are exposed to “clinical pearls” shared by the skilled clinicians. Despite the early morning meeting time, case discussions are often lively and peppered with questions and answers from students – with the help of the provided coffee, of course. 

Student learning occurs on a myriad of levels during the Morning Rounds sessions. While attendees get the chance to assimilate information learned from multiple courses and apply it to a specific patient, they are also learning how to do so in a simulated grand rounds setting. This is a valuable skill to possess as a future pharmacist. All patient cases discussed in the MRCaT sessions are real, de-identified SOAP notes written by fourth year pharmacy students during their APPE rotations, giving the attendees a small taste of the kinds of patient cases they may encounter in practice. Exposure to these patient cases provides another outlet for students to familiarize themselves with clinical documentation. The meetings also allow attendees to practice applying information from their courses, which encourages students to draw on concepts learned throughout the curriculum. Students are also able to learn how patient cases are presented and gain insight into how experienced clinical pharmacists dissect these cases. This is all accomplished in a relaxed setting free from the looming stresses of grades, making for a comfortable environment conducive to student learning through active participation.

Thus far, we have had the opportunity to host pharmacists from a diverse range of practice settings and specialties, including clinicians who practice in general medicine to those who are board certified specialists in specific fields. The semester was kicked off with a case involving community-acquired pneumonia, heart failure, and hypertension. We then moved on to more specialized areas of practice, discussing cases in HIV and Hepatitis C. In addition, students were introduced to telemedicine by pharmacists who practice in this unique setting. Subsequent cases focused on solid-organ transplants and widespread chronic disease states, including diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. 

UIC’s ICHP student chapter is dedicated to contributing to the organization’s mission to advance excellence in pharmacy, and we strive to achieve to do this by providing excellent opportunities for our fellow students, such as MRCaT. We are grateful to all who participated this fall, and look forward to another great semester of coffee and cases!

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