Advocacy Champion Works to Improve Health Care, Outcomes for Patients With Cancer

Directions in Pharmacy, August 2021, Volume 3, Issue 4

Directions in Oncology Pharmacy is getting to know oncology pharmacy professionals through a series of interviews. In this issue, we talk to Ashley E. Glode, PharmD, BCOP, who was recently named an Advocacy Champion by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Ashley E. Glode is an assistant professor of pharmacy sciences at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado. According to the university, Glode is appointed to phase 1 clinical research trials for gastrointestinal and head and neck cancers as well as sarcoma at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Her clinical practice and research interests lie in improving supportive care interventions and quality of life for patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer.1

Q: What motivated you to become a pharmacist and to practice in the oncology space?

A: I had always been interested in health care in one form or another. My family encouraged me to pursue pharmacy, and I loved it. I enjoyed learning the science behind how the human body works and how medication can help fix any issue that arises. In my oncology course in pharmacy school, I was fascinated by the complexities of how cancer can develop and the variety of treatment options available to individualize care. Clinical rotations in school and residency further fueled this passion and, during my oncology residency, I was hooked for life.

Q: You were recently named an Advocacy Champion by ASCO and were entered into the organization's Senator's Club. What do these selections mean to you?

A: Being selected as an ASCO Advocacy Champion is a true honor. I can make a difference in the life of the patients I see, but being involved in advocacy allows me to help patients on a larger scale by educating lawmakers on important bills to improve care for patients with cancer. Some of the important initiatives we championed were access to clinical trials for Medicaid enrollees, removal of step therapy requirements for cancer treatment, expansion of telehealth, and funding for cancer research. Being selected to the Senator's Club is important to me, as it demonstrates my commitment to regular participation in ASCO advocacy activities. I was the only pharmacist selected for the Senator's Club and 1 of 2 pharmacists selected as an Advocacy Champion.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing oncology pharmacy?

A: I think there are several challenges that impact oncology pharmacists, including burnout and the need to be better at self-care, keeping up with the rapidly evolving treatment options, and financial implications of high-cost cancer care.

Q: What is a recent advancement or success you think is going to impact the oncology pharmacy space?

A: I am really excited about the novel targeted agents being approved for patients with rare mutations. We are moving from a malignancy-specific approach to a tumor-agnostic approach, which may help more patients gain access to lifesaving therapy.

Q: What do you think will be permanently changed in pharmacy by the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: I think the use of technology and telehealth visits will remain an important tool post pandemic. Telehealth has allowed patients to be seen by pharmacists in their homes, when appropriate, allowing for more of their family and caregiver support team to be involved in their treatment discussions.

Q: What do you enjoy most about practicing in oncology pharmacy?

A: I enjoy the evolving treatment landscape and knowing that science is advancing the care I can provide to patients. I also really enjoy the team aspect of caring for patients with cancer and the collaborative multidisciplinary approach that is used to provide optimal treatment.

Q: What is one thing about you that may be unexpected to your patients and students?

A: In pharmacy school, I joined a Student Rainforest Fund trip to the Amazon rainforest. I studied with a shaman and swam with piranhas in the Amazon River.

REFERENCE

1. Glode named advocacy champion by the Association for Clinical Oncology. News release. University of Colorado Anschutz. April 26, 2021. Accessed June 14, 2021. https://news.cuanschutz.edu/pharmacy/glode-named-advocacy-champion-by-the-association-for-clinical-oncology