Anne-Marie Charbonneau-Allard - CAPhO16 Summary Report

Dear colleagues,
 
anne marie charbonneau allardI had the wonderful chance of attending the CAPhO meeting that took place in Niagara Falls in the month of April. The whole annual conference was entitled “Can we talk?” and I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you how it focused on the theme of the importance of communication in our health care world, and how it enriched both my professional and personal knowledge for my own pharmacy practice. 
 
It is very surprising to know that the statistics show a very low percentage of patients who manage to retain information provided by their health care providers following a medical visit. In addition to this, I also learnt that patients have very different feelings and points of view on how they perceive certain medical situations related to health care. The conference managed to illustrate to the audience these medical situations by meaningful examples in order to facilitate the grasping of the complexity of the issue. This newfound knowledge triggered the way I reflect on my patient counselling and teaching and the strategy I use for the latter, including my perception of how patients understood the information provided. It has allowed me to think of new strategies that I can work on to better improve my counselling/teachings and develop an efficient way to communicate with my patients. 
  
The limited amount of information patients retain and the benefits of patient phone follow up by the pharmacist of the cancer pain clinic made me realize the importance and the positive impact of phone follow ups. This is not only important for patient care, but also a time saving strategy for the oncology team. Using my own oncology clinic setting as an example, I would encourage and propose that our pharmacist team implement a follow up phone call to our outpatients (who are not being followed by a “pivot or liaison nurse”) 7 days after their first cycle of a new regimen or chemotherapy.
 
As of spring 2016, I will start practicing as a clinical pharmacist on the palliative inpatient care unit in addition to my work in the outpatient oncology clinic. My colleague will be leaving on maternity very soon, and I am excited about this new endeavour since for the first time at the MUHC (McGill University Health Centre) there will be two pharmacists trained in palliative care. The experience of the cancer pain clinic pharmacist inspired me to think of new ways to implement what I am learning in palliative care on supportive care in oncology and how to implement this to our outpatient clinic. 
 
In addition to learning more on the tools and goals of good communication with patients, this year’s conference also emphasized the importance of communication between health care professionals, not only in the oncology setting but in other medical sectors.  Several conferences at CAPhO also highlighted the role of the oncology pharmacist as a valuable reference. Pharmacists in oncology, because of their specialization in the field, may be consulted by health care professionals from various other sectors, for example on the management of side effects of oncology medication. Moving forward and by being proactive in our practice, the oncology pharmacist has an important role in sharing oncology knowledge and increasing awareness of issues encountered in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Upon return from the annual conference, we have decided to organize a conference presented by an oncology pharmacist on the recognition and management of side effects from the new immunotherapy agents currently being used in our clinical setting. The first will be a short 15 minute presentation given to the staff of the emergency room and the second one will be a longer 1 hour presentation for pharmacists at the MUHC. This annual conference encouraged me to reach out to our oncology team!
 
Finally, the conference allowed me to evaluate posters, gave me tips on how to start a research project, allowed me to network with other motivated and clinically orientated pharmacists from across Canada, and gave me insight on how to better optimize and improve my practice.
 
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my experience at the annual conference and I am looking forward to next year’s meeting in Banff!
Many thanks to the selection panel for having given me this opportunity!
 
Anne-Marie Charbonneau Allard
Oncology pharmacist
McGill University Health Centre 
Montreal, Quebec