APPE Reflection: Oncology

Let’s start this post on a high note… I absolutely loved this rotation! One of my favorites, but honestly, all of my experiences have been amazing. Also, I received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during this month, so I will briefly be going over that experience.

On this rotation, I spent the month in the Oncology Clinic Pharmacy, where I assisted the pharmacist as well as nurse navigators and providers to ensure exceptional care for our patients. Oncology, if you don’t know, is a fancy word for cancer… or rather oncology is the study of cancer.

I spent some time helping the nurse navigator with educating patients about their new chemotherapy regimen.

On the very first one, I met a patient who I was able to help more than I knew that I could. She was a patient with newly diagnosed breast cancer and had already received surgical intervention and radiation. Through our conversation, I was able to get to know her better and learned that she was really interested in meeting the president of my university, Nido Qubein. She kept mentioning it, and at the end of our discussion, she mentioned it one more time stating “tell Nido I’m here.” After contemplating whether or not it was appropriate to contact him on her behalf and discussing it with my preceptor as well as the nurse navigator that was in the room when the conversation took place, I decided to email him. After he put me in touch with the appropriate person, we were able to get flowers sent to her on his behalf when she was there for her first treatment the next week.

She told me that she was so thankful and that it really made her day.

That is the first time that I felt like I had the opportunity to go above and beyond what is asked of a GOOD pharmacist or pharmacy student and give her something that she would likely not forget.

Some other things that I was able to do is sit in on some of one of the provider’s new patient visits. I got to learn a lot about ways to break bad news to a patient in a way that shows how compassionate you are and how you are truly there to help them the whole way.

I also researched and got answers for questions that providers had for me. I was able to teach them something new. This was a very rewarding process for me.

I spent a lot of my time in the clinic’s pharmacy assisting the pharmacist in being a part of a 2-check verification system. This was a way for the pharmacist to have someone check their calculations, requirements of diluting/mixing the product, and other pertinent patient information to insure that the patient was safe to get their medication that day and that it was made properly.

Another important aspect of my rotation was going through the concise treatment plans of all new patients to insure the therapy was both appropriate and safe and verifying those things with resources available to us.

Also, I participated in a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic where we vaccinated >1000 patients. Along with that, I occasionally helped the hospital provide vaccinations at their smaller clinics (Here’s an article detailing the mass vaccination clinic).

Overall, I feel like I learned a lot over the course of the month, and I feel much more confident in my ability to understand oncology and various chemotherapeutic regimens.

Moving on, I’d like to talk a bit about my experience with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. I received the 1st dose on January 5th. I didn’t have any side effects from that one. The injection site was a little sore, but it was less than I typically get with my annual influenza vaccine, so it really didn’t bother me at all. I got my 2nd dose on January 22nd (I know that was only 17 days after the first one, but it’s the only day I was able to get it). It is recommended to get the 2nd dose 21 days after the first. Anyways, the side effects that I had with the 2nd dose were severe pain at the injection site and swollen and severely painful axillary/armpit lymph nodes (on the same side) for ~3 days. I also had a mild headache and felt a little nauseous. I understand that my experience was a lot milder than some people, but I just figured I would explain what happened to me.

Anyways… I only have 2 more months of APPE clinical rotations and then I’ll be in my NAPLEX review class for 1 month and then graduation!

Also, I got a job offer!! I’m still waiting for a community residency to get back to me so I haven’t accepted yet, but it really seems like a great opportunity!

I’ll keep you all updated on that process.

Stay Golden,

Emily

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