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Two Residents' Perspectives on the HOPA 11th Annual Conference 

Jennifer Grabowski, PharmD Inpatient Clinical Pharmacist
University of Colorado Hospital Aurora, CO
Forger PGY2 Oncology Resident at University of Colorado Hospital

Joseph Kaiser, PharmD Oncology Pharmacy Specialist
St. Mary's Regional Cancer Center
Grand Junction, CO
Forger PGY2 Oncology Resident at University of Colorado Hospital

The 11th Annual HOPA Conference was held in Austin, TX, this past March and provided learning opportunities for all attendees—from students to residents to seasoned clinical pharmacists. Two second-year oncology pharmacy residents from the University of Colorado describe their experiences.

Jennifer Grabowski, PharmD

Because this year was my first time attending the HOPA clinical conference, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would provide great networking opportunities and educational experiences, but aside from that, I was going in with an open mind. I was pleasantly surprised to find a relaxed, yet professional, atmosphere at the conference. The presentations were educational and enjoyable, and the career fair was less intimidating than I had imagined. It was also great to connect with old classmates and hear about their accomplishments during their residency year. The city of Austin was as unique as it claims to be and just as exciting to explore. I consider this HOPA conference to be my first of many.

I do have some advice for future residents or students who will be going to the HOPA annual conference for the first time:

  1. Download the handouts ahead of time. And, if you’re technologically challenged like me, print them off to be able to take notes during the conference. Much of the information is not available on the slides, and keeping notes can help you remember the key concepts.
  2. Take advantage of the career fair. Not only is it a great tool for launching or expanding your career, it also helps you explore a variety of clinical opportunities you may not have otherwise been interested in or even considered. Even if the positions listed don’t seem to interest you on paper, speaking with the representatives will help you gain a better understanding of the opportunities available and may change your opinion of working in various environments.
  3. Check out the research posters. Support your coresidents nation- wide by appreciating their work. Chances are they are investigating clinical issues you may come across in your future practice.
  4. Be prepared to hand out your CV. The networking opportunities are everywhere and not only limited to the career fair. You will likely meet somebody who knows somebody who knows some- body who will be beneficial to your future and help to expand your network of colleagues.
  5. Enjoy the city. Austin was a beautiful city to explore, rich in music, food, and Texas culture. Although we may be there for “business,” take some time and enjoy the atmosphere of whatever city the conference happens to be in that year.
  6. Don’t forget to turn in your clickers at the end of the conference!
  7. If you forget, they know who you are and they will find you.
  8. Most importantly, learn lots and have fun!

Joseph Kaiser, PharmD

The HOPA conference was an extremely valuable and rewarding experience. As a PGY2 oncology pharmacy resident, my initial intent for attending this conference was to present my research project. How- ever, this event turned out to be so much more. The educational sessions provided me with cutting-edge information that can’t be found from some of the other nationally recognized oncology organizations, such as National Comprehensive Cancer Network or American Society of Clinical Oncologists. These discussions were focused on the practical pharmaceutical aspects of cancer care. I gained a great wealth of insight and clinical knowledge that will benefit me and my patients as I move forward in my career. My only regret was that I could not attend all of the sessions.

Besides the vast amount of educational opportunities available, this conference opened my eyes to the fact that oncology pharmacy is a relatively small and tight-knit community. The networking opportunities were endless, and I was able to make contacts that I will be able to count on for shared knowledge and expertise, ultimately bettering the services I offer to the healthcare team I will be working with and improving the treatment of our patients.

I would recommend attending the HOPA annual conference to not only PGY2 oncology pharmacy residents, but to PGY1 residents and students alike. Anyone who has an interest in oncology pharmacy stands to gain from attending this conference. HOPA offers very reasonable registration rates for residents and students, as well as the opportunity to apply for a travel grant, helping to make attendance affordable to those who have limited resources. Considering this and the networking and educational opportunities, the HOPA annual conference is a tremendous value and well worth the cost. I am very much looking forward to the HOPA 12th Annual Conference. See you there!