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ASBMT Pharmacy SIG Reports Growth, Opportunities for Pharmacists

TOP - May 2015, Vol 8, No 2

San Diego, CA—The American Society for Blood and Marrow Trans­plantation (ASBMT) Pharmacy Special Interest Group (SIG) is rapidly growing in both membership and opportunities, according to Jamie F. Shapiro, PharmD, BCOP, Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator, Stem Cell Transplant, and Chair of the ASBMT Pharmacy SIG.

Dr Shapiro, Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator of Stem Cell Transplant at Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL, presented a SIG update at the ASBMT’s 2015 BMT Tandem Meetings, held February 11 to 15. “Our membership is rapidly growing,” Dr Shapiro said in an interview with The Oncology Pharmacist. “We increased from 99 members last year to 240 now, a 41% growth in just 1 year.” She attributed the increase to outreach that informs oncology pharmacists of the benefits of membership in the Pharmacy SIG, which was initiated 3 years ago.

Recruitment initiatives are ongoing. One of these initiatives is greater exposure through a booth exchange between the Pharmacy SIG and Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA); each organization waives the $6000 booth fee for the other at their respective meetings. The Pharmacy SIG also sends letters to postgraduate second-year directors, highlighting the benefits of membership, which include—in addition to opportunities for networking and leadership—reduced membership fees for residents in training. ASBMT, as a whole, has now followed the lead of the Pharmacy SIG and reduced its membership fees for trainees.

This is just one example of trends that are being set by the Pharmacy SIG as it assumes a larger role within ASBMT, Dr Shapiro explained. “The ASBMT board is extremely happy with what our SIG has done, and they are supporting our new initiatives,” she said. “They are looking to use us as one of the leaders among all the SIGs. We have been paving the way for many things that other committees have adopted.” For example, the Pharmacy SIG was the first to develop a First Practitioner Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award, which other SIGs now have.

Strengthening the Pharmacist’s Role in FACT

Through the Pharmacy SIG’s efforts, the role of the pharmacist in the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) will be strengthened. In the new, sixth edition of FACT, which sets standards for transplant centers, the responsibilities and contributions of the oncology pharmacist as part of the multidisciplinary team have become more well-defined. This is an improvement over past editions, where these roles were weak and vague, she explained.

The new edition also indicates that a pharmacist’s training will include an overview of cellular processes, therapeutic drug monitoring, and adjustment of drugs for organ dysfunction. It also recommends that pharmacists be involved in the development of guidelines and standard operating procedures. The pharmacist’s role has therefore been made more clinical, according to Dr Shapiro.

Advocacy Efforts

The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) recently solicited feedback regarding its report on BPS Pharmacy Specialty Structure and Framework, and its proposal for the creation of subspecialty designations within the stem-cell transplant community. “Our Advocacy and Policy Committee wanted to speak on behalf of pharmacists working in transplant, so we surveyed bone marrow transplant pharmacists via a Listserv to get their thoughts on the issue,” Dr Shapiro explained. “We had 81 responses; 45 in favor of subspecialty designation, and 36 against it.” Based on the survey responses, the Pharmacy SIG commented that:

  • A subspecialty designation will recognize that practicing in transplant does require additional knowledge and practice, beyond that of Board-Certified Oncology Pharmacist
  • Subspecialty designation is not likely to create new job opportunities, justify more full-time employees, or increase compensation
  • Members would rather earn more continuing education credits, versus taking an examination
  • Members would consider added qualifications if subspecialty designation is not adopted.

“We indicated to BPS that we recognize that obtaining subspecialty designation requires additional knowledge, although most respondents did not feel that this would create more job opportunities,” Dr Shapiro said.

Other Accomplishments

The main accomplishment of the Communications Committee was to publish 3 newsletters during the year, and to maintain and update the content on the ASBMT Pharmacy SIG website. A new initiative will be a monthly e-mail update, which will be a review of recent literature relevant to transplant. “As we grow, we are also adding new opportunities for learning,” Dr Shapiro commented.

The Education Committee held its third Fundamentals of Transplant course after the March HOPA meeting. The 2014 course attracted a 34% increase in attendees over the previous year. There is also an online case series housed on the Pharmacy SIG website that is associated with lectures given at the BMT Pharmacists’ Conference, a part of the Tandem Meetings. Future educational initiatives will further diversify the ways that Pharmacy SIG members can stay up to date, she added.

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