Nancy Russell - CAPhO16 Summary Report

Nancy russellI would like to thank the CAPhO executive for providing me with a travel grant to attend the 2016 CAPhO conference in beautiful Niagara Falls. The learning opportunities as well as time spent networking with so many pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who share a passion for oncology was very rewarding.
It was inspiring to hear from so many active pharmacy practitioners during the lectures and group discussions. I especially enjoyed the panel discussions regarding how different pharmacy centres set up their oral chemotherapy assessment practices and manage toxicities. Comments about patients needing to self report were prevalent and show that we have to encourage patients to share with us when they are having issues. These practices are similar to what we do at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre and many of the tools and techniques presented at the conference will be beneficial in further developing our practices.
Although I enjoyed all the speakers, Kim Lavoie's lecture on motivational communication was especially relevant. One of my roles at work involves communicating with patients by phone when they have questions for a pharmacist. I have now altered my ways of communication so that I listen, use empathy at all times, and strive not to tell patients what to do. When they feel you are on their side, they are more willing to agree to your suggestions which will hopefully increase compliance with drug therapy. To be honest and clear and begin conversations with open ended questions encourages better communication. Kim's suggestion of using “Would it be all right if we discussed....” is a powerful technique that provides patients with a choice about their health care.
One speaker who had the most impact on me was Chris Ralph talking about his palliative care team and their important role in patient care. His story about meeting a former patient's husband in Hawaii was very touching. This is a tribute to the important work that we all do in the world of oncology pharmacy. We need to continue to show professional courage and realize that the only limitations are those we set for ourselves. 
I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by CAPhO to attend this conference. I have a new found zeal to practice my profession and to put the patient first. Let us always strive to be amazing!
Nancy Russell
Staff Pharmacist
Saskatoon Cancer Centre