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The Resident’s Cubicle: Advice to Those Embarking on a New Oncology Career

Brandi Anders, PharmD
Hematology/Oncology Clinical Pharmacist
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Winston-Salem, NC

This time of the year marks new beginnings for individuals in many different aspects of oncology pharmacy. You may have made it through the first few months of your oncology pharmacy residency and you are wondering, “What have I gotten myself into?” Or, maybe you have finished a PGY2 oncology residency and have just started a new position as an oncology clinical pharmacist and you question if you are re- ally ready for this challenge. Whatever situation you may find yourself in, the new and unknown can be a scary place. I have found that the best way to face these challenges is with the help and advice of those who have been there—those who came, saw, and conquered. For this edition of The Resident’s Cubicle, I have compiled advice from several of my colleagues and mentors who have helped me along my path to becoming an oncology clinical pharmacist. I hope that their wisdom will offer support to you as well.


"It is an exciting time as the field of oncology is growing immensely! Begin your PGY2 with an open mind to all oncology specialties. Please also understand that 1 year of training will not make you an oncology expert. The goal of this program is to provide you with the essential tools necessary to pursue any oncology specialty area, with the under- standing that oncology specialization requires years of experience."

Erin Bailey, PharmD BCOP
GYN/GU Oncology Clinical Pharmacist Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
PGY2 Oncology Residency: Huntsman Cancer Institute—University of Utah

 "My advice to new oncology clinical pharmacists just starting their careers would be to continue to seek mentorship from seasoned oncology clinical pharmacists and to not be afraid to ask your colleagues questions as you set up your practice. One of the great things about practicing in oncology pharmacy is the great community of pharma- cists who are always willing to share innovative ideas and advice. There are some great e-mail discussion and Google groups out there. I would recommend joining HOPA Central if you haven’t already!"

Megan Bodge, PharmD
Inpatient Oncology (Solid Tumor) Clinical Pharmacist
West Virginia University Healthcare
Morgantown, WV
PGY2 Oncology Residency: Vanderbilt University Medical Center

 "Learn something from every patient encounter. It could be asking the patient to describe a drug toxicity or looking up the evidence to sup- port a chemo regimen that was given in the past. Every patient offers a unique case study to learn about cancer and chemotherapy. There’s so much to learn that you don’t want to miss an opportunity for patient-centered learning."

John Bossaer, PharmD BCPS  BCOP
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice
East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy
Johnson City, TN
PGY2 Oncology Residency: Medical University of South Carolina

 "I would tell a new PGY2 oncology resident to enter the year with an open mind. Oncology is such a diverse and vastly different realm of practice than any other area of clinical pharmacy. The things that were really important during your PGY1 year might be ancillary in the field of oncology. Keep an open mind about what you like and what you don’t like, and search for the area of oncology that really interests you. There are countless subfields of oncology that you may like and others that you dont, but entering the year with an open mind will help you find what is right for you."

 David Eplin, PharmD BCOP 

Outpatient BMT Clinical Specialist Nashville VA Medical Center Nashville, TN
PGY2 Oncology Residency: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

 "It will definitely be overwhelming with all the new information that you will have to learn with all the novel agents and mechanisms that are currently being studied in the world of oncology. And the expectations from your preceptors and medical staff will far surpass what you have experienced so far as a PGY1 and as a student. But it will all be worth it in the end. There will be rotations that you may love and experiences that you may dislike, but learn from everyone and everything because you will never have a time like this to dedicate all of your energy into your training. Keep in contact with all of your peers and network with others in your field because you never know when you might need to collaborate and reach out to them!"

 Maho Hibino, PharmD BCOP 

Clinical Oncology Pharmacist Wake Forest Baptist Health Winston-Salem, NC
PGY2 Oncology Residency: University of Washington Medicine