Summer Experiential Learning: Patients First, Team Work and Passion

Guest post by Darren Bogle (edited by Amy Smith)

Each summer the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency pharmacy staff has the pleasure of working along side aspiring pharmacists, such as Darren Bogle.  In this guest blog post, Darren shares some personal insights by reflecting upon his time with our patients. - Amy Smith

My Summer Job at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre

The Saskatoon Cancer Centre provides learning opportunities for various learners- from students to new practitioners. This summer, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work at the Cancer Centre. Here are the top three things I learned this past summer.

  1. How Teams Work

The team approach at the Cancer Centre is evidently important and crucial to patient safety and care. The team is a meshwork of pharmacists, physicians, nurses, dieticians, social workers, researchers, and of course – the patient.  I observed a lot of respect and trust exchanged, which provides the building blocks to establishing a successful team. Although interprofessional collaboration is discussed in class, I learned first-hand how an effective, well-functioning team interacts.

  1. How to Build Meaningful Patient Relationships

As patients journey through various stages of treatment, there is an opportunity to provide ongoing care. The Cancer Centre has taught me to take a step back and look at the big picture.  As a student, you often get caught up in the therapeutics and lose focus of the person being treated. I now appreciate the importance of treating the patient and the disease.

I am grateful for the opportunities to sit down with patients, listen to their stories, and build trusting relationships. Often a listening ear speaks volumes and can make a person’s day.  I was admittedly uncomfortable with this concept before, but now I appreciate the power in something that seems so small and insignificant.

  1. How Passion Impacts Practice

Those with a passion for their work succeed. Each individual at the Cancer Centre is passionate and committed to not only completing their job, but to go above and beyond expectations for their patients. When the prognosis is not always promising, it is easy to feel run down, but the positive energy and love displayed by staff creates a feeling of hope. These elements and a wealth of knowledge and experience create a supportive atmosphere for learning. The positive perspective and infectious attitude will be carried forward into both my work and personal life.

I am walking away from this summer feeling refreshed and excited about my pharmacy career. Today I have a greater understanding that our role exceeds medication management. We are first and foremost patient care specialists – that happen to know a lot about drugs.



Darren, a fourth year student at the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan, is originally from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Darren is a board member on the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacists and a previous board member for the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan. Darren’s interests include figure skating, intramural sports, volunteering, and spending times with his friends and family.