Jennifer Thackray, PharmD, BCPS, BCPPS, is a Pediatric Oncology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She was recently awarded a Presidential Citation by The Pediatric Pharmacy Association for her contribution to the publication, Key Potentially Inappropriate Drugs in Pediatrics: The KIDs List and also awarded the 2021 Outstanding Practitioner Award by the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy Alumni Affairs Board for her professional accomplishments.
Please describe your current position and the types of patients you see in clinical practice.
I am a pediatric oncology clinical pharmacy specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). My clinical practice includes rotating between inpatient oncology, outpatient leukemia/lymphoma and outpatient neuro-oncology clinical services. I support the clinical team and patients by optimizing pharmacotherapy for oncology treatment and supportive care.
Please tell us about your research interests and the potential impact of your research on patient care.
Initially, my research interests were broad- supportive care in pediatric oncology. I participated in institutional quality improvement and assurance projects in an effort to improve and standardize the supportive care of pediatric oncology patients at my institution. Eventually, through networking at national organizations and sharing my research interests in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), I joined a multi-center, retrospective trial with 3 other centers describing the use of olanzapine in pediatric oncology for CINV. From there, I have been on expert panels for clinical practice guideline (CPG) development for the classification and management of CINV in pediatric patients. From the literature, it is clear that patients experience more complete control of CINV when CPG-consistent prophylaxis is utilized; as is the same for many CPG-consistent practices. I am proud to work on these endeavors and help to provide evidence-based answers to specific research questions that will ultimately impact the care of all pediatric oncology patients in the US.
My training is in pediatric pharmacotherapy and I am actively involved in pediatric medication safety at my institution and at a national level. I was recently a member of the expert panel whom developed the inaugural KIDs List. This project was commissioned by The Pediatric Pharmacy Association (PPA) and is an evidence-based list of drugs that should be either avoided or used with caution in all or a subset of the pediatric population (similar to the Beers Criteria in the elderly population). The KIDs List is an essential first step to improving mediation safety in pediatrics.
What is one of the proudest moments of your career?
I was raised in Oklahoma. I attended college and pharmacy school in Oklahoma. I moved to North Carolina for residency and then to New York City to pursue my career dreams. In June of 2021, I received the Ralph D. Bienfang Outstanding Practitioner Award from the Alumni Affairs Board of The University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy Alumni Association for my clinical and research career achievements. Accepting this award in front of my family, especially with my oldest daughter (Reese 8 years old) was a highlight of my career. For my daughters, I want to model building of a career and life that inspires you and others to be the best version of themselves. It was an honor and joy to receive this award. Reese now thinks I am ‘a little famous’.
What would you define as keys to your success?
Surrounding myself with passionate, hard-working individuals has shown me there are many definitions of success. While my career goal of positively impacting and easing the suffering of pediatric patients with cancer has not changed, my pathway to that goal has taken a few turns along the way. In the beginning of my career, I took every opportunity that came my way and this helped me learn which activities bring me the most professional fulfillment. I also learned about opportunity cost and how every yes is a no to something else. I learned there is no shortage of roles and committees to volunteer for – just ask! In the past few years, I have become more intentional in the opportunities I seek out and accept. Now, as we navigate burnout in healthcare, it is even more important to maintain intentional volunteering and mentoring so that I can preserve my health and longevity in this career I love so dearly.
How long have you been a member of HOPA and how have you been involved?
I have been a member of HOPA for 10 years and been involved in much of the pediatric oncology programming since 2016 when participating in a ‘Pediatric Boot Camp’ pre-conference session. I have given many presentations on pediatric oncology at HOPA annual conferences and have helped mentor residents in their research abstract and poster submissions to the annual conference. I was also a member of the Tools and Resources Committee for a term.
What advice would you offer to other oncology pharmacists who are either just beginning their career or expanding their role?
I have 2 pieces of advice. First, reach out to colleagues who are 3-5 years ahead of you in their careers and learn about their experiences. They have most recently been in your position and are often excited to share their pearls and pitfalls. Of course, it is wonderful to have mentors 10-20 years ahead of you as well, so you can continue to gain insight into all the pathways and avenues taken and continue to reach for those long-term career goals.
Second, is regarding leadership. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s epic career has inspired many people, including myself, to listen and learn from others and to build something outside of yourself. As you move through your career, you will find that all stakeholders will not be aligned and you will need to lead differently, sometimes not as the loudest voice in the room. Hone your fact-finding skills by asking questions of your colleagues and commit to finding a win-win solution.
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
-Ruth Bader Ginsberg
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