Summer Experiential Learning: From Second to Fourth Year at the BC Cancer Agency

I am incredibly grateful to have interned at the BC Cancer Provincial Pharmacy Department during my second to fourth years as a pharmacy student. The endless guidance and support that the Provincial Pharmacy team has given me helped me grow in so many ways. I was provided with constant opportunities to increase my knowledge and advance my research, organizational, and communication skills by:

  • Working on various projects
  • Presenting research posters at conferences
  • Attending educational sessions
  • Shadowing clinical pharmacists and pharmacy residents
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals

Throughout my internships, there are three top life lessons that I learned along the way amongst many others:

  1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. My main motivation for pursuing an internship with BC Cancer was to become closer to achieving my goal of becoming an oncology pharmacist. In the beginning, I was very uneasy as I was faced with an unfamiliar environment with no idea what to expect and put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I was given projects in which I did not have much background on such as answering drug information requests, reviewing treatment protocols, and assisting with developing new preceptorship rotations. Having never worked so closely with my preceptors before made me nervous as well, however, I never received so much encouraging feedback and guidance. As a result, I became more confident in myself after successfully completing each project and felt much more at ease. Stepping outside of our comfort zone is how we can grow and it is so exciting to embrace this journey to see where it may take us.
  2. It is going to get harder before it gets easier. My first two projects were very challenging where I performed an economic analysis on a highly expensive immunotherapy, pembrolizumab, and created a decision support tool to determine the safest and most cost-effective number of oral oncology drugs to be stocked. I had no experience in these two areas and was new to the entire research process which involved: writing a protocol, applying for ethics, collecting and analyzing large amounts of data, presenting the results, creating a research poster, and preparing a manuscript for publication. I struggled a lot but persevered with the help of my supportive preceptors. After this first experience, the process has become much easier for subsequent projects and makes me excited to engage in more research. It is critical to believe in ourselves and never give up.
  3. Make the most out of every opportunity. I have been lucky and am thankful to have taken my research projects farther than I could have imagined. I continued working on them as directed studies courses through my pharmacy program and presented two research posters at the Canadian Association of Pharmacy in Oncology (CAPhO) Conference 2019 and International Symposium on Oncology Pharmacy Practice (ISOPP) 2019. I connected with many amazing individuals whose interests aligned with mine and who shared their perspectives with me from around the world. I gained an understanding on how far oncology pharmacy has come and the opportunities that pharmacists have to help patients now more than ever. Hence, it is so important to always put 100% into everything that we do and push ourselves to our boundaries. We will be impressed with what we can accomplish.

My time at BC Cancer has been a life-changing experience and makes me look more forward to providing direct care for patients. I hope that one day I can work with these remarkable individuals again and join the fight against cancer in this way.

Ashley Jang is currently in her fourth year of Pharmacy at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and previously completed her BSc in Psychology/Behavioural Neuroscience at UBC. She has been a member of CAPhO since her first year and was awarded the 2019 CAPhO Student Member Award for her significant contributions to the area of oncology pharmacy. Ashley’s hobbies include running, badminton, billiards, table tennis, cooking, baking, and recipe scrapbooking.