Krista McKinnon - CAPhO18 Summary Report

What an amazing conference! CAPhO Conference 2018 took place in Ottawa-Gatineau in the beautiful Hilton Lac-Leamy hotel and conference centre. As a recipient of the CAPhO Conference Travel Grant this year, I was allowed the opportunity to meet a variety of practitioners from across the country and expand my knowledge in oncology and research. It was my first CAPhO conference, and I’m so happy I was able to attend. I have not attended previously, as a pediatric oncology pharmacist I wondered if the conference would be focused on adult oncology/particular tumor groups and not applicable to my practice – but I was wrong! This year’s theme of “Better Together” encompassed the feeling throughout the whole conference as pharmacists & pharmacy technicians came together from across the country to learn from and with each other to serve ourselves and our patients better. 

There were a number of sessions that stood out for me: 

  • Multiple sessions looked at patient education and improving health literacy: low health literacy is an ongoing challenge. One tip was to confirm patient understanding by use of a ‘teach back’ but don’t ask a patient “do you understand that” as most patients will agree no matter their understanding – this isn’t a test of the patient but how well we as HCPs explained it. 
  • Despite the weather preventing his live appearance, the remote presentation by Dr. Jorgenson went off without a hitch! His discussion on framing results from the literature and applying those to the specific patient in front of you (for both benefits and risks), as well as his list of favourite decision aids to allow for shared decision making was great. He reminded us to avoid the terms ‘rare’ or ‘common’ as perceptions of these terms vary amongst patients and even amongst HCPs, and to stick to 2-3 adverse effects to focus on with patients.
  • The concurrent session on simulation-based education training (SET) in pharmacy discussed an interesting method of training learners (pharmacy students, residents, or even staff), similarly to what is done for OSCEs or for medical/nursing staff. There are lots of potential applications for it! 
  • The panel discussion with cancer survivors, including 2 oncology pharmacists, about their journey from diagnosis to treatment and beyond was so powerful and provided valued insight from the patient perspective. One take-away I had was that the transition from active treatment to survivorship/follow-up is a time of significant anxiety for many patients.
  • The final plenary on Sunday provided insight into how to build & maintain resiliency in our lives, including tips on taking care of ourselves so that we can help others. We were offered 12 tips to increase resiliency that I think we can all take away from including: showing gratitude and appreciation for others, laughter, unplugging from technology, and practicing compassion (including self-compassion), to name a few.

I was able to present my research poster “Integration of a Pediatric Antineoplastic-Induced Nausea and Vomiting Assessment Tool into Clinical Practice”, along with the other projects (50, a new record!) that were presented this year. The breadth and quality of projects that were presented over a variety of topics was impressive and I was able to chat with a number of other presenters about their projects which provided me with other avenues to explore with new research ideas in pharmacy and oncology practice.

This conference brought a diverse group of oncology pharmacy professionals together and really demonstrated that we are ‘Better Together’. It showed how we can do this as professionals working together, but most importantly when working with our patients and their families. Thank you to the awards committee for the travel grant that allowed me this experience, I’m looking forward to attending many more CAPhO conferences!

Krista McKinnon
Clinical Research Pharmacist
Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary AB