Sunday, August 14, 2011

This is not therapeutics class

Posted by Nina Cimino at Sunday, August 14, 2011

Having completed the second week of my inpatient oncology rotation, I feel like I have already gained a lot of insight about what it means to transition from a student to a professional. Being on rotation with my preceptor has taught me a TON about oncology so far, and I still have tons more to learn! Aside from actual oncology pharmacy, I have also been learning a lot about the "real world" of pharmacy, and I think that has been just as valuable for me.

First of all, the past week started off pretty tough, because two of the unit's patients passed away. This is a very sad and all too often occurrence on an oncology unit, and it taught me a lot about the different ways in which healthcare professionals provide care. Unfortunately, there is only so much that medicine can do, and it is important to still be there for patients and their families to provide them with the best supportive care and comfort possible, even when treatment options run out. Seeing how my preceptor and the rest of the medical team deals with these issues taught me a lot about the kind of caring professional I want to be.

And remember evidence-based medicine class from P1 year? It's back. On Wednesday, I went to a tumor board meeting with my preceptor, which is a meeting where the medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, clinical trials pharmacists, and oncology pharmacist discuss specific patient cases. There, physicians can choose to present a patient to the rest of the healthcare professionals present in order to receive opinions and insights from others about the best course of treatment for the patient. These cases are usually tricky or unique in some way, which is why the physician is seeking other input. It was really interesting to hear all the discussion going on in this meeting and all the different opinions! And EBM is back in a big way, because the results of clinical trials drive care in oncology. So, a lot of discussion focuses on whether a particular patient can be considered similar to a study population (and therefore could possibly be treated the same way and get similar results). While the results and conclusions of a clinical trial may provide great knowledge to healthcare providers, deciding how to best apply that new knowledge is often a very complicated question.

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