As a recipient of the 2023 CAPhO Conference Travel Grant, I had the privilege of attending this year’s CAPhO Conference in “tropical” Toronto. I started attending CAPhO conferences in 2017 and have tried to attend as many as possible since that time. The conference provides four days of exceptional education that not only increases my knowledge as a pharmacist practicing in medical oncology but encourages me to push the pharmacy profession forward. It showcases valuable research and allows you to build connections with other passionate pharmacy professionals across the country. This was particularly valuable after spending the last three years isolating and not being able to easily share the amazing work that is being done across Canada. This year’s theme was “Innovation and Collaboration: Looking Forward” and it was obvious how innovative pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have been during the covid-19 pandemic and how they were able to overcome obstacles to make sure their patients were receiving the best possible patient care. I think everyone left the conference looking forward to all the amazing things that can be done in the future.
This year there was a satellite symposium on retention strategies for human resources within the healthcare system and a plenary session on maximizing engagement and energy within the workplace. I think everyone across the country is having a hard time with staffing and employee burnout post pandemic. It is important that we as individual practitioners and leadership work hard to take care of ourselves and our co-workers, so that we as a team have the energy to provide the best care to our patients. Some retention strategies that were mentioned were to only develop an employee engagement study within the workplace if the results are going to be used or at least acknowledged to the staff, to encourage employees to explain what they need and allow them to be involved in the solution and to ask employees what would make them want to stay instead of waiting until they are planning to leave the organization. Dr. Karyn Gordon’s presentation was very interactive and lively and really brought motivation to the crowd. She suggested using the 6 P’s to maximizing engagement and energizing workplace culture. I plan to bring these strategies back to my leadership team and to sit down and work through my 6 P’s of engagement in order to improve my energy level and bring my passion for the profession back to the workplace.
Another highlight of this year’s conference was learning about the Medication Assessment by Pharmacist (MAP) Program. In this program a group of pharmacists were referred stable patients on 11 different oral oncology drugs by the oncologist. They would alternate patient visits between the oncologist and pharmacists. This helps to free up oncologist time and helps expand scope of practice for the pharmacists involved. This was very interesting to me because in Halifax, we have recently started to see patients receiving PARP inhibitors in a similar process where they see the gyne-oncologists every 3 months and the pharmacist monthly between physician visits. This presentation has given me a lot of insight into further directions we could take and how to improve our current process.
I was grateful to have the opportunity to present my group’s research poster on “Real-world adherence to toxicity management guidelines for immune-related adverse events”. Another poster in the session that stood out to me was looking at Pembrolizumab fixed dosing of 200 mg versus 2mg/kg dosing and they found there was no clinical advantage to either approach but showed there were considerable cost savings with using the 2 mg/kg dosing.
I want to thank the awards committee for giving me this amazing opportunity to attend the conference and I look forward to attending next years conference in Moncton.