Member Spotlight: LeAnne Kennedy, PharmD BCOP CPP FHOPA
Megan Brafford May, PharmD BCOP
Clinical Oncology Pharmacy Specialist
Baptist Health Lexington
Brandi Anders, PharmD BCOP
Hematology/Oncology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
Wake Forest Baptist Health
LeAnne Kennedy, PharmD BCOP CPP FHOPA, is a clinical pharmacy specialist in stem cell transplant at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston Salem, NC. She has been working with the stem cell transplant service for 23 years. In 2005, LeAnne received the first HOPA Award of Excellence. In 2016, she was one of 10 HOPA members inducted into the inaugural class of HOPA Fellows. The Fellow of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (FHOPA) designation recognizes individuals who have made sustained contributions to HOPA and who have also demonstrated exceptional performance in oncology pharmacy. Candidates for FHOPA status must have a minimum of 10 years of professional involvement in hematology/oncology pharmacy. Additional requirements include sustained practice contributions in the field of hematology/oncology pharmacy, contributions to original research, participation in volunteer service or philanthropic activities, and nomination by two full members of HOPA. In this interview, Dr. Kennedy shares reflections on her role as a clinical pharmacy specialist and her involvement with HOPA.
In which type of practice setting do you currently work? Do you specialize in a specific tumor type? And what are the type and number of patients that you see in your practice?
I have been a stem cell transplant pharmacist for the past 23 years. I work in an academic institution where we perform transplants in approximately 140 patients each year. We perform both autologous and allogeneic transplants, including haplo-identical transplants. Over the past 2 years, we have begun doing outpatient transplants for multiple myeloma patients, which involves our transplant pharmacists on a high level.
What is your role as a clinical pharmacist?
No two days are ever the same for me. When I work on the inpatient transplant service, which usually has 10–14 patients, I review all of my patients before we make rounds as a multidisciplinary team. The rest of the morning is spent answering questions for patients and our team while helping to prepare for discharges. The afternoon is spent teaching students and residents who are on rotation and attending lots and lots of meetings! When I am working in the outpatient setting, we might see 10–20 patients a day. The needs for these patients range from taking medication histories to ensuring that our patients have the ability to obtain their medications.
Oncology pharmacists are expanding in numbers and breadth of practice. More oncology pharmacists are now running their own clinics in pain management, bone health, and other specialties. With these advancements, what is your perception of the future of oncology pharmacy? What changes will this bring to your own practice?
I am fortunate to practice in North Carolina, where pharmacists are identified and recognized as clinical pharmacist practitioners (CPPs), which is a mid-level practice designation. This designation allows the pharmacist to see patients as a provider and to help patients with their medication therapy even on clinic visits when they don’t see other medical providers. The challenge is that pharmacists are not reimbursed for services. We are making strides through facility fees, but I think the biggest benefit to the healthcare system is to increase the prescriptions sent to our specialty pharmacy.
Are patients accepting of the role of the oncology pharmacist? How do you explain your role to them?
One of my favorite things about my job is talking to my patients! When a new patient is admitted to the inpatient service, I try to go in and introduce myself and explain the role of the pharmacist. Many times patients are surprised to know that they will have a pharmacist following them from day to day. In the outpatient setting, the patients know us by name and are excited to see us.
What was the impetus for your career choice? What are the most satisfying parts of your role? How do you see your role changing in the future to meet the expanding needs of the oncology patient?
From my time in high school, I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist, but it wasn't until I did my residency that I realized my love for oncology, especially in the transplant field. I enjoy the variety that working with transplant patients provides, and I love the multidisciplinary team. I think the role of the oncology pharmacist will be moving more and more to the ambulatory setting, as we see the care of the oncology patient move from the hospital to the clinic. I am excited that I have had the opportunity to work in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.
Tell us more about your membership in HOPA. What are the strengths of membership, and where would you like the association to take the hematology/oncology pharmacist in the future?
I have been involved with HOPA since attending the first meeting in 2005, where I received HOPA’s first Award of Excellence. This led to my involvement with the education committee, which helped to plan the annual meeting. I was also the administrator of HOPA’s continuing education for 7 years. During this time we received recognition as a continuing pharmacy education provider through the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Being an active member of any organization allows you to get more out of the organization than just something to put on your CV. HOPA has worked hard to give our members many opportunities for involvement. If members are not sure how or where to get involved, they can go to the Volunteer Activity Center (VAC) on the HOPA website and see what opportunities are available.
What does being inducted into the inaugural class of HOPA Fellows mean to you personally?
I have served on many different HOPA committees over the years, but the biggest honor was being a part of the inaugural class of HOPA Fellows. What an honor to be recognized among so many other great HOPA pharmacists!
What piece of advice would you offer to oncology pharmacists who are either just beginning their career or expanding their role in patient care?
My best advice to new practitioners is to get involved, no matter how small the involvement may be. It is also important for them to find people who can serve as mentors and help them set realistic personal and professional goals. As the pharmacists continue to grow, their mentors can continue to help them set and achieve new goals. I hope to see many new practitioners at HOPA’s next annual meeting!