Pharmacy Expertise Expands at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey with Board Certification of Two More Oncology Pharmacists
New Brunswick, N.J. – One of the hallmarks of a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center like The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, is the unique oncology expertise exhibited by its clinical team – including pharmacists. As the only such center in the state, The Cancer Institute demonstrates this excellence by having four pharmacists certified as Board Certified Oncology Pharmacists (BCOP). The BCOP certification is held by only 1,095 pharmacists in the nation – the highest concentration of which (29) are from New Jersey. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has four.
Less than two decades old, the BCOP certification has become the gold standard for which to strive for pharmacists in the oncology field. As cancer therapies become more personalized, the complexities of cancer treatment continue to grow. Equipped to understand such intricacies, pharmacists who are BCOP certified have an in-depth appreciation of clinical skills and therapeutic management and are proficient in pharmacy guidelines, standards and policies in the oncology setting.
“The BCOP certification indicates a quality of excellence and enhanced level of knowledge beyond a traditional pharmacy education,” noted Michael P. Kane, RPh, BCOP, director of Oncology Pharmacy Services at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Oncology pharmacists are responsible for ensuring both safety and accuracy in administering both intravenous and oral chemotherapies. But according to clinical pharmacist specialist Stacey Lisi, PharmD, BCOP, who was one of the recent team members at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey to earn the certification, their daily schedule involves much more than being behind the counter. “Oncology pharmacists are very involved in a patient’s care. At The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, we meet with patients during their initial treatment visit and during follow up-visits. Along with educating patients about the therapy they will receive and reviewing the dosing schedule, we provide a comprehensive assessment of other medications and supplements they may be taking. This in-depth medication review allows us to identify the potential for negative reactions to the anti-cancer agent prescribed and the opportunity to substitute medications to minimize adverse outcomes. This ultimately could prevent patient discomfort or even additional trips to the doctor,” said Dr. Lisi.
Board certified oncology pharmacists are found in different settings, including community hospitals, but their role at an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center is more far reaching. “At The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, our team members have experience in pain management and supportive care, and even participate in research. We also have the ability to interact directly with the patient, their doctor, nurse and other members of the care team about the patient’s specific treatment needs. In other settings, the patient does not have this benefit and may not even have an opportunity to meet the pharmacist,” noted Pulkita Patel, PharmD, BCOP, an oncology pharmacist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey who was also recently certified.
While an important goal for the individual pharmacist, Kane says the BCOP certification is also an important reflection of the center. “While it is not a mandatory certification, we strongly encourage those on our team to strive for this level of excellence. It shows our level of commitment as an institution to patient care,” he said.
To maintain the certification, a pharmacist must take a comprehensive examination every seven years or take part in continuing education each year in order to keep up with research-based evidence, and oncology-focused guidelines and standards within the pharmacy field.
About The Cancer Institute of New Jersey
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (www.cinj.org) is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. Physician-scientists at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. To make a tax-deductible gift to support The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 732-235-8614 or visit www.cinjfoundation.org. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheCINJ.
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center, and Cooper University Hospital. Affiliate Hospitals: CentraState Healthcare System, JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), Somerset Medical Center, The University Hospital/UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School*, and University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. *Academic Affiliate