This month, we are spotlighting Danielle McKay, a P4 student. This year, Danielle completed an elective inpatient oncology rotation at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois.
I completed an elective inpatient oncology rotation at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois. My role was to work up patients, determine ways of maximizing inpatient therapy, work with the interprofessional healthcare team and attend rounds, and discharge counseling (among other roles!).
Oncology pharmacotherapeutics is a notoriously difficult subject. In terms of didactic preparation, I had a really great study guide from my Drake Therapeutics class to reference. Additionally, most of the inpatient problems consisted of managing chemotherapy-induced effects, and my didactic coursework in this area was extremely useful. However, Drake most prepared me for this experience in intangible ways: working on an interprofessional team, identifying drug therapy problems, utilizing drug information resources, life-long learning, literature analysis, and critical thinking. These skills were (and continue to be) as important if not more important than the “tangible” preparation.
I was fortunate to spend two weeks of my rotation in the hematology unit of the hospital, and this was a priceless learning experience for me. I had an amazing pharmacist to learn under, conditions and complications I had never heard of (let alone experienced), and a wonderful team of healthcare professionals to work with.
I cannot think of one specific memory, but my favorite part of this experience was getting to know my teammates, especially the pharmacy team. In truth, this has probably been my favorite part at each rotation site!
It sounds cheesy, but one of my favorite things about the pharmacy program, and Drake as a whole, is the faculty and mentorship. The faculty at Drake are extremely intelligent, experienced, great teachers who really go above and beyond to ensure your best learning experiences possible. They are an invaluable resource. Drake faculty are approachable and down-to-earth, and they know me by name, say hello in the halls, and engage with me as a person – not every college or program can say that. Asking questions is a major method I learn, and Drake faculty have always been extremely approachable and thorough in answering these questions.
In terms of professional accomplishments, I have held several different positions within pharmacy (and non-pharmacy) organizations. I have two part-time jobs that allow me to participate in real-world pharmacy, engage and communicate with patients, and learn every day. Other accomplishments I am proud of include studying abroad in Cardiff, Wales, perform mentored research with a faculty member, win first place for a poster presentation about nutrition in Des Moines schools, and co-lead an Ayurvedic medicine research project in Loni, Maharashtra, India.
Pay attention in every aspect of the learning program at Drake. Things always come back around; that one thing you talked about in Pharmacokinetics may be mentioned a year later in Therapeutics and then be relevant to a patient case on rotations and so on. No part of the learning program is more or less useful than another; it is all useful! Additionally, take care of your mental health! If I had sorted this out sooner, I think I would have been able to take away more from my coursework, enjoy my experience more, and ultimately become a better pharmacist.