Humirah Sultani - CAPhO17 Summary Report

It is with profound thought and inspiration that I take this time to reflect on my experiences at the 2017 CAPhO Conference hosted at the Banff Springs Fairmont. The majestic, snow-capped mountains and viridian forests traced the sky line and hung in the distance like a painting. The breath-taking display was easily seen through the great windows of the foyer as we made our way from one ballroom to the next. As if the setting was not aesthetic and intricate enough, the presentations and the camaraderie really emphasized to me the tight-knit community that is oncology pharmacy.
 
This is the first time that I have ever attended a CAPhO conference, and as a pharmacy resident, I found that the presentations, plenary sessions and symposia bore relevance to my pharmacy practice, and my development as a citizen. I identified a few daily themes that really helped to consolidate the education that I have gained from this experience.
 
The conference started with sponsored presentations, which were both informative and thought-provoking, especially the latter as I must always be critical of information that I see and read, regardless of who is presenting. The presenters can provide me with clinical pearls, but my ability to take a closer look into the evidence will allow me to achieve that paradigm shift in my professional practice.
 
The second day tugged at my heart strings with a very human theme of humility and patient-centred care. A cancer diagnosis impacts not only our patients, but also their entire foundation of family and friends. My ability to empathize and support them can really demonstrate my commitment to the well-being of the most important stakeholders in our profession: our patients. I gained insight into some of the tough decisions that need to be made in providing their cancer care. Topics ranged from minimizing long term consequences of childhood cancer therapies to advocating for affordability and access to medications to appreciating the complexity of respecting an individual's autonomy and right to medically-assisted death.
 
The last day felt like the last consideration of a well-written reflection: the now what? For anyone that has limited experience with reflections, the first two steps are to consider the what? and then the so, what? But, the now what? was a question that was answered as the day progressed. It started with the CAPhO Town Hall to survey our association's members and elicit their perspectives. It progressed to recognizing our peers' commitment to advancement through research, and was followed by hot topic discussions to promote critical thinking and collaboration.
 
I identified most with the panel discussion on integrating students into everyday practice because at this time last year, I was just completing my undergraduate education. I looked around the room and saw at least a few dozen people that had taught, precepted, mentored and supported me through my years of professional and personal development. My eyes then fell upon my first and only student that I had precepted so far, who was busy tweeting his thoughts about the discussion on the conference’s exciting new mobile application. 
 
This conference really impressed upon me the importance of advocating for our profession. Excellence in our clinical practices at the front lines is a demonstration of our scope and expertise to our inter-professional team members, but nurturing and devoting ourselves to the success of our peers is a microcosm of advocacy that is both the most important and the most effective. Every day that we practice as pharmacists, we must embrace the responsibility of putting our patients first, but working together skillfully, seamlessly and respectfully is our best chance at achieving this. The importance of attending conferences extends far beyond the continuing education credits gained and the beautiful destinations of the host cities. It provides us all with the opportunity to be inspired by our peers, to gain support for our professional goals, to share our knowledge and practical experience, and to close the loop by becoming involved with our professional associations. I am not only motivated to complete my residency research project and to share my findings at the national platform that is CAPhO Conference 2018 in Ottawa, but I am also excited to find opportunities to be involved in promoting oncology pharmacy by volunteering with CAPhO.
 
I hope to leave you with my last epiphany, which is that in order to do something astonishing, your every action needs to not only better yourself, but also your peers and your team, and your professional community. This chain reaction is the key to elevating pharmacy practice in Canada, and most importantly, raising the standard of care that we can offer our patients.
 
Humirah Sultani
BSc Pharm, Pharmacy Resident