New contest rewards student innovations in pharmacy and other healthcare professions


First winners of the "Pharmacy Is Right for Me Student Innovation Challenge" are announced


Today 14 teams composed of 60 high school students from across the country learned which team had won the first “Pharmacy Is Right for Me Student Innovation Challenge,” a new contest designed to interest high school students in the fields of pharmacy and other healthcare professions. Two pharmacy associations, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), and OptumRx, a health services company, have been the driving force behind the contest.

The contest is designed to encourage students in grades 9 through 12 to develop their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as they seek creative solutions to some of the issues besetting pharmacy and other healthcare professions today, with the goal of improving American health outcomes.

Three seniors from Seaman High School in Topeka, Kan., won the grand prize. Their winning project devised a rebate plan to encourage patients’ adherence to their medications, which the students equipped with a micro-sensor and camera that monitored patient compliance.

The second-place team represented Dunbar High School in Ft. Myers, Fla, and the team that placed third also comprised students from Seaman High School. Each student in the top three finalist teams will receive an iPad Mini.

The three grand-prize winners were awarded a trip, all expenses paid, to Washington, D.C., where they will meet pharmacists and STEM leaders at APhA headquarters at a reception held in their honor.

“We created the Pharmacy is Right for Me Innovation Challenge to give high school students a true glimpse into the broad opportunities that pharmacy and other STEM fields can offer. We also want to tap the imaginative potential of these young students,” said John Jones, RPh, JD, senior vice president, Professional Practice and Pharmacy Policy, OptumRx and Pharmacy is Right for Me advisory board chair, in a prepared statement.

“Our goal is to reach students - particularly young people from underserved and underrepresented communities - early in their education to engage the next generation of STEM and pharmacy leaders.”

According to the press statement, statistics show that there is a great need for increasing STEM education throughout the United States. It is projected that more than 1.2 million STEM-related jobs will be unfilled in the United States by 2018. Establishment of the Student Innovation challenge by the three founding organizations was prompted by the vital need to engage members of the next generation in development of needed skills and to turn their attention to current healthcare issues.

For more information about Pharmacy is Right for Me or the innovation challenge, contact or visit the program website,

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