Solving problems beyond most people’s comprehension, Lovell High School junior-to-be Grace Edwards captured first place in the medical math category at the SkillsUSA National Championships competition in Louisville, Ky., June 19-24.
Edwards is the daughter of Chris and Ramie Edwards. Her chapter advisor is Bret George. She attended the national competition with Worland High School SkillsUSA advisor Mike Sapp and WHS student Tanner Allen, who competed in automotive manufacturing. Sapp is Edwards’ grandfather.
In Louisville, Edwards took a two-hour medical math test that she said included dosages, metric to English conversions, IV drip rates and the like.
Here’s a typical question that Edwards answered:
“2. Your hospice patient is on a double pump. One side is running NS at 30 mL/hr KVO, and the other has a 100mL bag containing 2 mg morphine sulfate (MS) running at 5 mL/hr for pain management. She begins to show signs of breakthrough pain and her doctor orders 0.2 mg MS STAT. You would normally use a prefilled syringe containing 1 mg/1 mL MS and give 0.2 mL IV push, but on looking in the narcotic cabinet you find none available and the pharmacy is closed. It occurs to you that you could reset the pump to deliver 0.2 mg MS in 5 minutes, then go back to 5 mL/hr. At what rate should you set the pump?
“3. Now that you know the rate, from problem #2, what is the volume to be infused?”
Edwards said going to Nationals was a great experience for her.
“When I was 8 I went to Nationals with my grandpa, and it was always my goal to go (as a competitor),” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field, and that was one of three medical areas that Wyoming offers.”
This was Edwards’ second trip to Nationals. Last year, as a freshman, she finished second at State SkillsUSA in medical math but got to go when the first-place winner couldn’t attend. She placed 14th. This year she placed first and was the Wyoming representative in the event.
The test at Nationals contained around 60 questions worth a total of 1,000 points, and she placed first out of some 30 competitors with 890 points. She also earned points for her job resume and official dress.
Many of the competitors in Louisville already attend a job-related high school, taking courses in the medical field, Edwards noted, including the student who placed second behind her. But she said she loves the competition and the problem solving.
“Math has always been one of my best courses,” she said. “It doesn’t come easy, but I enjoy the challenge of it. I find it fun. They set up a lot of story problems with real world problems.”
On days when she wasn’t competing, Edwards was able to see the area, for instance taking a trip to Indianapolis to see the Indianapolis 500 Museum, attending a Louisville Bats baseball game and touring the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory and museum.
Edwards said she plans to continue to compete in medical math and also plans to run for a state office for SkillsUSA this year and possibly a national office as a senior. She was the LHS vice president of the organization as a sophomore.
“I never dreamed of it,” Edwards said when asked her reaction to a national title. “I was just happy to be there. When they called my name I was shocked. It took a while to sink in. Not many people get to walk on that stage, so it was great.”
A rare feat
Bret George, the LHS SkillsUSA advisor, said what Edwards accomplished in Louisville is a truly rare accomplishment.
“It’s amazing, a very prestigious placement,” said George, who has been the LHS chapter advisor for 13 years. “Since I’ve been involved Wyoming has had only one or two national title winners. This is a very big step for her. I commend her for her study habits.
“Grace’s drive and determination got her where she is.”
George noted that most SkillsUSA winners attend specialized schools, so Edwards’ accomplishment is a great feat for a small, Wyoming public school.
“It’s a big deal, coming from a little 2A school,” he said. “Most of the kids we compete against come from technical schools. It’s an amazing accomplishment for her. Usually, we’re out-gunned, but Grace brought it this year.”
By David Peck