HOPA member Nicole A. Brunette, PharmD, BCPS, BCOP is a Clinical Oncology Specialist with a focus on Oncology Informatics. In her practice, she collaborates with oncologists, oncology nurses, and other oncology pharmacists to help optimize day-to-day patient care.
Please describe your current position and highlight some areas of your practice.
I am a clinical oncology specialist with a focus on oncology informatics at Reliant Medical Group in Worcester, MA. My practice includes collaborating with oncologists, oncology nurses, and other oncology pharmacists to help optimize day-to-day patient care. I serve as a decentralized oncology pharmacist to support both clinic and infusion oncology patients and the oncology team helping care for patients. Some of my patient care duties include chart reviewing patients scheduled for upcoming chemotherapy and making treatment related recommendations to the patient’s care team prior to their visit, designing patient specific treatment plans, and answering drug information questions.
I also work with oncologists and lead oncology nurses to design, optimize, and build oncology content and any associated workflows needed within the electronic health record (eHR). By working to optimize the tools and resources available within the eHR, the oncology team can provide efficient care and focus on caring for the patient instead of looking at a computer screen. I strive to design an eHR that is standardized, easy to use, and encompasses what each end user needs in their day-to-day workflow.
Please tell us about your research interests and the potential impact of your research on patient care/pharmacy in general.
My current research interest includes leveraging the eHR to design a process for pharmacists to review and prepare select intravenous (IV) admixture products the day before patients are scheduled for their IV chemotherapy. Preparing select chemotherapy products the day prior to the patient’s appointment allows for decreased patient wait time, increased patient satisfaction, efficient use of limited infusion chair time, and optimization of pharmacy workload, all of which leads to streamlined care of oncology patients.
Tell us a little bit about your outreach efforts and where your passion for this work comes from.
I am interested in advocating for the redesign of site of care policies to no longer require select specialty medications be shipped directly to a patient or another healthcare provider with the intention that the patient or healthcare provider will store, prepare, and administer the medication. I have sat on the Massachusetts Society of Health System Pharmacists Legislative Board off and on over the last few years to network with other pharmacy leaders and find ways to educate peers and policymakers about the potential adverse consequences of these policies and the effects these policies have on oncology patients.
What is one of the proudest moments of your career?
One of the proudest moments of my career was participating in the implementation of an all-encompassing eHR system from a paper-based system. I was responsible for helping to create IV room workflows and assisted in standardizing the design of the IV admixtures used within the cancer center, as well as some of the standardized safety initiatives that were implemented to assist end users in the safe use of IV products. I am very proud of the time, thought, and innovation that was put into designing the workflow and leveraging the tools available within the eHR to set and maintain safety standards leading to optimal patient safety.
What advice would you offer to other oncology pharmacists who are either just beginning their career or expanding their role?
My advice for other oncology pharmacists who are starting their career or expanding their role is to observe your peers and colleagues then ask as many questions as you need to fully understand the various aspects of your role. Seeking to understand existing workflows, goals, and the overall vision for the role you are in will empower you to act more strategically and make a larger impact within your practice.
As a newer practitioner, what advice would you offer to other oncology trainees who are just beginning their career?
My advice to pharmacists who are starting their journey into oncology is to pursue every opportunity presented to learn, grow, or challenge how you approach obstacles within your practice. Even opportunities that you might think aren’t an area you have a strong interest in present an opportunity to learn a new skill or observe a thought process you might not have considered previously. Having experience in various areas will benefit your overall practice and you never know what subset of oncology pharmacy you may find passion in until you roll up your sleeves and try it out.
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