Friday, September 20, 2013

Ambulatory care- Oncology

Posted by Bryan Wang at Friday, September 20, 2013

I had the pleasure of spending my third rotation at St. Joseph Mercy Health System, oncology clinic.

Monday, Tuesday and Friday consisted of initiating medication reconciliation with the cancer patients.  I would also talk to the patients and answer any questions they had regarding their medications.  Many of the patients were on other dietary or herbal supplements, providing me with ample opportunities to look up the latest research on various herbal supplements and their role in oncology patients.  Additionally I was able to sit in with the physicians and observe physician / patient interactions, as well as non pharmacological therapies such as surgery and radiation treatment options for these patients.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays I spent my time studying the various types of cancers, the various treatment options and the latest ideas regarding these types of cancer.  In my rotation, I covered Lung, breast, lymphoma, and colorectal cancer.   I also worked on a medication surveillance project in which I developed a tool to assess employee exposure to neoplastic / carcinogenic agents.  This assessment tool was developed to be used for all employees at the St. Joseph Mercy health system.

One patient experience I encountered which really touched my heart was of an elderly lady who came in with lung cancer.  She had relapsed after 20 years cancer free.  This lady told me a story of how she once assisted a young mother by holding one of her babies.  A man drove by and spit on her, because the baby and the mother were African American.  When she asked her father why this happened, her father said, because the man was ignorant.  She then asked her father where ignorance comes from, to which he replied, lack of education.   The lady decided to dedicate the rest of her life to improving education; she was the president of a university for many years, which had increased its student body by 5 times, during her tenure.  Meeting this woman changed my perspective about patients, specifically it taught me to never lose touch of the fact that every patient you interact with has a story. 


Finally, I had the opportunity of attending meetings in which my preceptor and other pharmacies discussed challenges with the recently implemented electronic medical record.  I also attended meetings where we discussed pharmacy operations and communication with other health care providers.   I learned a lot about how St. Joseph’s health care system operates and the role that pharmacy specialists play with physicians and nurses.  While this setting is ultimately not for me, I learned a great deal about pharmacy practice in an oncology setting and have developed a large appreciation for the role pharmacists play as providers.  

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