Transitions Magazine

Transitions is published bi-monthly for members of the APhA New Practitioner Network. The online newsletter contains information focused on life inside and outside pharmacy practice, providing guidance on various areas of professional, personal, and practice development. Each issue includes in-depth articles on such topics as personal financial management, innovative practice sites, career profiles, career development tools, residency and postgraduate programs, and more.

Invaluable members of the cancer care team
Jamila Negatu
/ Categories: Student Magazine

Invaluable members of the cancer care team

Every resident has a different path and story of how they made it to the position they are currently in. For me, I had not considered oncology until I took my medical oncology rotation in the fall of my PGY1 residency year. Throughout the rotation, my passion for this specialty and patient population grew tremendously. I was finally able to combine my excitement for learning and interacting with an interdisciplinary team with my passion for talking and interacting with patients. By the end of the rotation, I knew that I wanted to pursue oncology further as a PGY2 resident. 

Numerous patient care opportunities

As one of three oncology PGY2 residents, my day-to-day activities rely heavily on patient care. A typical day consists of getting to the hospital early to work up my patients and follow up on things that happened from the previous day and overnight. I review the pharmacy pass-off our department uses to help with the continuity of care between different pharmacists on service and overnight pharmacists to help me stay organized. 
Prior to rounds, I meet with my preceptor to discuss my recommendations and any suggestions they may have. Each service is slightly different, but multidisciplinary rounds usually start around 9:00 am and last until around 2:00 pm, depending on the patient load. The oncology pharmacists usually have offices on the floor where our patient service is located, since we serve as a resource throughout the day for the academic medical team. 
The afternoons vary each day but are typically filled with patient education, discharge counseling, processing chemotherapy orders, meetings, topic discussions, and patient discussions with my preceptor. Once a week, all of the oncology residents attend a formal topic discussion with preceptors. These discussions are led by a resident and conclude with recent updates in treatment, guidelines, and new clinical trials by our preceptor. 

Additional duties

Throughout the course of the year, I will complete rotations in medical oncology, hematology, and blood and marrow transplant in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. Longitudinally, I spend time in an oncology clinic and staff in the cancer center one evening a week. I staff the inpatient hematology service approximately every third weekend. 
Projects and presentations that will be completed during the year consist of a medication utilization evaluation, new drug evaluation, research project, journal clubs, and nursing in-services. Formal meetings that I will attend throughout the year include visits to the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, Midwest Pharmacy Residents Conference, and the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting. 

How to prepare

I would encourage students who want to pursue a PGY2 in oncology to take a rotation within the practice area and ask questions of the preceptor (and residents, if applicable) about their experiences within oncology and residency. This allows for a better understanding of the responsibilities and opportunities of an oncology pharmacist. I would also encourage taking a variety of rotations as a student and PGY1 resident. It is extremely important that you are passionate about whatever practice area you choose. The more specialty areas you are exposed to, the better able you are to decipher which you enjoy the most. 
I would also recommend looking for residencies in different locations than you attended for pharmacy school. Pharmacy practice can vary in different ways depending on the state and institution and I have found my experiences at different institutions to be highly valuable in 
developing my skills. 
What I enjoy most about the residency is the camaraderie I share with my co-residents as well as the well-rounded experience it has given me. After completion of my PGY2 residency, I hope to practice as a hematology/oncology clinical pharmacist at an academic medical center, earn board certification, and participate in various leadership opportunities within the profession.


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