A: I grew up in a family of healthcare workers which has had a huge impact on my career path. Although I initially wanted to continue my education as a PharmD / MD, after discovering the many avenues in pharmacy, oncology pharmacy was the best fit for me. I have always been passionate about the field.
The highlight of my life was when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was young. It instilled in me a passion for the job. In pharmacy school, I also had personal experience with oncology and had to undergo a stem cell transplant. Having walked in the place of the patient myself, I have developed an even stronger connection with the practice of pharmacy in oncology.
Question: Please talk about the oncology pharmacy initiatives you have been involved with this year and what they mean to you.
A: I have been involved in various oncology pharmacy initiatives over the past year. Despite the pandemic, educational initiatives have remained of interest to many oncology pharmacists.
I currently sit on the executive board of the National Community Oncology Dispensing Association. This year, we have implemented many educational opportunities to fill various knowledge gaps of pharmacists, students, technicians and several members of the healthcare team.
In addition, I had the pleasure of serving the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) as a member of the Education Committee and the Oncology Pharmacy Education Network. I have also chaired or co-chaired 3 educational initiatives for ACCC, focused on bladder cancer, oral chemotherapy delivery models and patient care for multiple myeloma.
Over the past year, I also chaired an educational program for Spire Learning, focused on the impacts of COVID-19 and cancer care. This is an important program for me because training remains a significant barrier for oncology pharmacists as the practice in the field continues to evolve and become more complex. I am honored to be able to contribute in a way that promotes and broadens clinical education and provides insight into the value of oncology pharmacists in clinical practice.
Question: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing oncology pharmacy today?
A: With the practice of oncology pharmacy constantly facing many changes, such as the integration of biosimilars and value-based reimbursement, I believe that one of the biggest challenges in oncology pharmacy is the ability to stay current. on clinical information. Cancer management is no longer a model of cytotoxic chemotherapy on its own. Immunotherapy, cell therapies, targeted therapies, biomarkers, cytogenetics and many more have made the results extremely positive for cancer patients. Staying up to date on the wealth of knowledge within the practice is crucial for oncology pharmacists to ensure optimal and safe patient care.
Question: What recent advancement or success do you think will impact the oncology pharmacy space or are you personally passionate about?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the practice of oncology to shift to a more streamlined approach, to some extent. The many advances and experiences we have gained through telemedicine are likely to become a permanent part of mainstream oncology practice.
Historically, telemedicine has played a limited role outside of the management of patients on oral chemotherapy. Today, telemedicine can be used for patient assessment, education, follow-up, and survival. In addition, telehealth and telemedicine can be leveraged to increase pharmacist involvement in patient care.
Question: What do you like most about the practice of oncology pharmacy?
A: The most enjoyable part of my career is the ability to connect with and impact patients and their families. There is no better feeling than knowing that you have made a positive impact on your patient and hearing them ring that bell at the end of their treatment. Another exciting aspect of the practice of oncology pharmacy is the tremendous growth we have seen over the years and the collaboration among colleagues to optimize care across the country.
Question: What is one fact about you that may be unexpected to your patients or colleagues?
A: During my career in pharmacy school, I was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia and underwent chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. This unique experience really empowered me as a clinician and fueled my passion and drive within the practice of pharmacy in oncology.
About the pharmacist
Kirollos S. Hanna, PharmD, BCPS, BCOP
Title: Head of Oncology Pharmacy, M Health Fairview Clinics and Surgery Center, Maple Grove, Minnesota; and assistant professor, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Rochester, Minnesota.
School of Pharmacy: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University