How Layered Learning in Oncology Pharmacy Residency Programs Can Impact, Support Professional Growth in the Field

SAP Partners | Health System / Oncology | <b>Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA)</b>

Andrea Iannucci, PharmD, BCOP, member of the Board of Directors of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA), discusses some common challenges hematology oncology pharmacists face in the field during their pursuit of professional growth and development.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Andrea Iannucci, PharmD, BCOP, member of the Board of Directors of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA); assistant chief pharmacist of oncology and investigational drugs services and PGY2 Oncology Pharmacy Residency Program director at UC Davis Health; clinical professor with UC Davis School of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and at the UCSF School of Pharmacy; and a board liaison for HOPA’s Practice Management Committee, which looks at issues pertaining to the hematology/oncology pharmacy practice management field. Iannucci addresses issues pertaining to how HOPA works within and impacts the space of hematology/oncology pharmacy practice management and the role of the Practice Management Committee in the field.

Alana Hippensteele: Hi, I’m Alana Hippensteele with Pharmacy Times. Joining me is Andrea Iannucci, PharmD, BCOP, a member of the Board of Directors of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, or HOPA; the assistant chief pharmacist of oncology and investigational drugs services and the PGY2 Oncology Pharmacy Residency Program Director at UC Davis Health; and a clinical professor with UC Davis School of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and at the UCSF School of Pharmacy. Andrea is a board liaison for HOPA’s Practice Management Committee, which looks at issues pertaining to the hematology/oncology pharmacy practice management field.

So what is layered the learning in an oncology pharmacy residency program, and how can it impact the professional growth of pharmacists in the field.

Andrea Iannucci: So layered learning is a strategy to engage the learners of different levels that you're working with on a particular service to help facilitate the learning experience for all of those levels of learners.

So, for example, in our oncology areas, we have a PGY2 pharmacy residency program in oncology. The oncology residents are really focused on oncology specialty learning, and they've already had a year of postgraduate residency experience where they've helped improve their clinical skills and are ready and geared up to start really focused learning in oncology.

Then we also have PGY1 residents who are in their first year after graduation from pharmacy school, and they're learning how to be better clinicians in an acute care or in an ambulatory setting. Then we also have pharmacy students who are in their last year of pharmacy school, but are really in their first advanced clinical learning experience.

So you engage the learners to help facilitate the experience and the teaching for each of those different levels of learners. So, you might have a PGY1 resident who is coaching and modeling for a student learner on how to interact with the team, how to find things in a patient chart, how to navigate, different aspects of the health care system.

So, then you may have a PGY2 oncology resident who is working with a PGY1 resident, who is gaining some more skills and experience in a clinical setting, really increasing their expertise with how to look up information, how to participate in a patient care team, and be an effective member of the team.

Then you have the oncology resident that is really working with the leaders on the service of firms to center on the service to really gather the specific aspects of oncology patient care, to help develop their expertise as an oncology clinician.

Alana Hippensteele: For some in the field, the need to balance being a caregiver of a patient with cancer and being a hematology oncology pharmacist may arise during their career. What are some of the common challenges professionals face when this occurs, and how would you recommend employers support professionals as they face these challenges?

Andrea Iannucci: So, I think it can be very difficult to be faced with a family member who had a severe cancer diagnosis and was extremely ill because, in some respects, you may know more information than you're willing to share with your family member about their prognosis, their potential outcomes, what the potential side effects of their treatment might be. And I would imagine that that could be very difficult to navigate as you're trying to maintain transparency and honesty with somebody who you have a relationship with.

I think that from the perspective of an employer who is working with staff who may be going through this personal challenge, I think the employer needs to really listen to the staff member and ensure the staff member that they're supported. While they're going through this, there are a lot of things that you can do as an employer to make sure that your staff are aware of what they're entitled to in terms of FMLA benefits.

Really, I think, working with your staff to let them know that that at least you can help them in protecting their job while they're going through this personal crisis is immensely helpful, because it eliminates one extra form of worry that the individual would have to deal with while they're going through this already challenging situation with a loved one.

Alana Hippensteele: Absolutely. Do you have any closing thoughts, Andrea?

Andrea Iannucci: Just one thing is we talk about wellness in the workplace and the importance of maintaining wellness, I think that it's become a buzzword, and in my mind, I think it almost borders on something that you could look at with a little bit of scrutiny or skepticism. I think that one of the things that we need to be mindful of is that, as you're addressing wellness in the workplace, try to come up with realistic tools that your staff can use to address these challenges between balancing work and life. I think the pandemic has really helped show us the importance of maintaining balance. People have faced devastating losses throughout the pandemic, and I think we are in a different place than we were before the pandemic started.

I think that some of the key things that employers can work on with their staff is to really try to correct some of the issues that have a negative impact on their staff, like ensuring that they have the resources to be able to take time off from work that they're entitled to without feeling like their peers are being punished. There are some creative solutions to dealing with staffing situations that will help support staff make use of their wellness opportunities to their fullest potential.