Throughout my residency and especially, as I approach the next step in my career of being a full-fledged clinical pharmacist, this is a question that I find myself thinking about more and more…And for me, the answer is rooted in a saying that I frequently heard in 2nd year lab from Colleen – which is to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Commitment to the profession is synonymous to being committed to growth. And committing to continually self-reflecting and challenging myself to be a better clinician tomorrow than I was today will be bumpy, uncomfortable but undoubtedly rewarding. At the end of my residency, I can probably write out lists of things that I still don’t know and areas that I need to improve in…and it’s going to be easy for me to feel overwhelmed by the steep learning curve ahead of me. To avoid this, I will need to frequently remind myself to break things down into little steps, to not be deterred by future setbacks, to connect with other pharmacists for support and advice, and to actively put myself in situations that will support my growth as a clinical pharmacist.
How I will strive to commit to my profession in the next year:
- Self-reflecting. Each time I encounter a setback or achieved an objective I have set, I will document and reflect on the situation. What did I do well? What could I have done better? So what? What now? How could I work to improve on this (e.g. efficiency)? What goals should I set and when should I hold myself accountable to them?
- Learning, Discussing, Teaching. The beauty of residency – and one of the many reasons, if presented with the choice again, I will always choose to do residency – is that it provides both the luxury of time and support to learn, discuss and ultimately teach yourself by applying your knowledge to real patients. When practicing on my own, I will work to train myself to continue to be an active learner…whether that may be by, re-visiting trials I have forgotten, critically appraising evidence and assessing how it applies to my practice, teaching myself and others about different topics.
- Broadening the scope of pharmacy. My commitment to the profession should not be limited to just the hours I have been scheduled to work. While this will be difficult to do in the next year, I will aim to become more involved in different aspects of pharmacy…for example, by regularly applying physical assessment skills, being more involved in CSHP and strengthening my teaching and precepting skills.
Lastly, I’ll end my post with a Pixar short that I found utterly adorable and very relatable during my year of residency:
Last presentation in residency! My topic was on Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate and the evidence surrounding its efficacy and safety. This topic came from one of the emergency medicine doctors who was concerned with its use in emergency due to its association with intestinal necrosis and the limited evidence surrounding its efficacy. My presentation can be found here: KayexalatePresentation_May2017
Areas of improvement:
- With the help of my preceptor, I was able to improve on and work on the flow of my presentation. Some things for me to keep in mind for future presentations are to: step away from my presentation and assess if the flow would make sense for someone listening to the presentation for the first time, as well as, make sure that the evidence ties in with my approach, recommendations and summary at the end.
- Initially, my presentation was very content-heavy. It is important to regularly ask myself what I want my audience to take away from the presentation and limit any extraneous information. As discussed with my preceptor, keeping my presentation clear and concise will help reduce any pressure to speak fast. See next point.
- Keeping myself at an easy to follow pace and loud volume has been a continuous work in progress. I wish I could say that I have succeeded in doing so at the end of residency as this has been my goal for every presentation…I feel like I definitely improved on my pace in the first half of my presentation but started going faster in the second half. Hopefully, one day! I will try to embrace any opportunity to do presentations or public speaking post-residency and continue to work on pacing myself and speaking in a loud and clear voice.
- Especially when going over content-heavy slides (e.g. trials, literature review), emphasizing and bringing home key points both visually and verbally will help keep my audience engaged. I will avoid reciting information off the slide and work on highllighting key points and summarizing them concisely.
During my ambulatory cardiology rotation, I presented on two topics to the interprofessional teams at JPOSC.
#1: Journal Club: FOURIER_Evolocumab (2017)
For this journal club, I had created brief summaries of relevant trials and a supplementary appendix at the end. Some things that I could improve on is having a more in-depth discussion comparing the different statin doses in other trials, and making more references to the appendix as necessary. My pace was quite fast for some of my audience members and for my future presentations, I will aim to slow my pace down and check in about my pace and volume with my audience. It was great to have other health care professionals at the journal club and to learn how this study was relevant to their practice.
#2: Beta-blockers and COPD
I really enjoyed working on this presentation as it was based on a question from a RN during one of the cardiac clinic appointments and seems to be a question that I will likely encounter in my future practice. It was challenging to figure out how to present this topic to a group of different health care professionals. I think I could work more on explaining my trial critique slides in more layman’s terms and using less jargon. Once again…pace is definitely a recurrent struggle for me during presentations. During my presentation, I had checked in with my audience regarding my pace and thought there weren’t any issues…but I definitely need to work on regularly checking in with them to make sure that I am still going at an appropriate pace, especially if people are coming into the presentation part-way. Another thing to incorporate into my future presentations is to provide more time (suggested 5-7 secs) when asking my audience if they have any questions, as well as, to always discuss if I agree/partly agree or disagree to a study’s conclusion and why.
C3.5 R3(b): Demonstrate skill in the MODELING form of practice-based teaching
C3.5 R3(c): Demonstrate skill in the COACHING form of practice-based teaching
During residency, I was paired up with a 3rd year pharmacy student through the TMP-SMX program. I had the opportunity to model patient interviews when she shadowed me during my psychiatry rotation. During my ICU rotation, we briefly discussed patient work-ups and how to perform physical assessments. After our discussion, she performed some physical assessments on a patient while I supervised.
During my ICU rotation, I presented on the management and use of fibrinolytics in submassive and massive PEs. The evidence regarding this topic is not very clear-cut and it was a great learning experience to try to figure out what I can help my audience take away from the available evidence and implement in their clinical practice.
Things that went well:
- Flow of the presentation was fairly easy to follow and organized
- Placed title slides for each section and provided and outline
- Slides were generally not too text heavy
- Paused at each section to check in with my audience and to see if there were any questions
Things I could improve on:
- Continue to practice, practice and practice for my future presentations…I definitely still get very nervous and stumble during my presentation, but overall, I still feel that my delivery skills are improving with each presentation
- Thinking back to my presentation… I realized that I had my back faced to a few of my audience members (whoops) and only turned back occasionally to ask if there were any questions.
- For future presentations, I will try to position myself in a way that I’m not blocking the presentation and am able to observe most of my audience to better gauge their understanding
My preceptor kindly helped me prepare for my presentation and provided me with lots of pearls to keep in mind for future presentations:
- Provide your own critique for each of the studies you present
- Use the risk of bias domain tool to help present on the quality of the evidence (including internal and external validity)
- Strength of a DB RCT shouldn’t be that it is randomized and double-blinded
- Provide your own summary of each trial and your own conclusion
- Consider the inclusion and exclusion criteria
- Consider the type of patient population that was eventually randomized
- Highlight benefits and risks
- Consider what the audience can or can’t take away from the slide
- Provide NNT/H only when results are statistically significant
- When going over goals of therapy and whether the evidence supports it or not, provide more concrete support (e.g. NNH, NNT, citation)
- When providing comparisons of drugs, include pharmaokinetic information:
- Also consider: are doses equivalent between options
- Think about how the drugs are used for other indications
- Consider my audience and provide some practical application points/pearls
- For instance, for this topic – providing information on whether or not anticoagulation can be started concomitantly with fibrinolytics and if not, how to decide when to start it? As well as answering what type of PE requires more monitoring and what kind of monitoring?
- Also for submassive PEs, being able to justify whether you would lyse right away or wait for hemodynamic decompensation before lysing
- An interesting analogy that my preceptor provided was that if a patient was pre-diabetic, would you prevent them from getting diabetes by giving them the treatment for diabetes?
- Being able to explain the clinical significance of outcomes studied (e.g. hemodynamic decompensation)
- If there is a lot of information to cover for trials, place them in the appendix at the end of your presentation
- Where the evidence is more grey
- Be able to justify whether you woud lyse or wait until you lyse
- Studies using ICD-9 codes: good for information where disease states are very uncommon or outcomes are very uncommon
My presentation handout: Submassive+Massive+PE+Final
Clinical Pharmacy Note RE: Digoxin
ID: 84 yo female admitted for G- bacteremia and hypercapnic respiratory failure
- PMHx: Afib, HTN, chronic back pain, PVD, scoliosis, recurrent falls and fractures, chronic cellulitis x 8 mos, venous insufficiency ulcers, childhood polio
- RASS -1, AO x 3
- Met patient in room to assess for SEs of digoxin:
- Denies drowsiness, dizziness. Has headaches but this is ongoing from PTA and have not worsened in hospital
- Denies any visual disturbances and able to identify red and green colours
- Denies N/V and nurse’s flow sheet shows no diarrhea
- Denies any change in appetite – ate 1/4 sandwich and 1/3 soup today for lunch
- At baseline – has muscle weakness to both her arms (L>R) due to childhood polio. Has weak strength of flexion and extension of thigh
- Denies any chest pain, palpitations or SOB
- v/s: T 36.3, HR 75, BP 130/65, MAP 93, RR 21 (on 2L NP)
- ECG (Mar 14): Afib with RVR (130 bpm)
- ECG (Mar 15): Afib rate controlled (90 bpm), inverted T waves
- On Mar 14, received digoxin 0.5mg IV at 1340h and 0.25mg IV at 2200h for afib with RVR. No maintenance doses have been ordered
- Digoxin level on Mar 15 1135h: 4.2 nmol/L (target for afib: 1-2.5nmol/L)
- Relevant labs (Mar 15): K+ 4.8 mmol/L, eGFR 13 mL/min (eGFR 75 mL/min in Nov 2016)
- Digoxin load is effective in controlling her rate for afib
- Trough level was taken appropriately and is supratherapeutic, likely due to her AKI
- Currently exhibiting no SEs of digoxin. No indication or role for use of digifab at this time
- PTA, refused treatment for afib and hypertension. On admission, afib may have been exacerbated by infection and hypercapnic respiratory failure which are currently being managed. The decision on whether or not to initiate long term management for afib should factor in her goals of therapy for comfort care.
- Not to continue digoxin (no maintenance doses have been ordered)
- Daily monitoring for s/s of afib: dizziness, syncope, palpitations, dyspnea (currently no cardiac monitoring d/t goals of therapy for comfort care)
- Daily monitoring of safety of digoxin: HR, K+, eGFR, sCr, u/o, worsening of headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, vision changes (flicking lights/halos, blurry or yellow/green vision, red-green colour blindness), worsening of muscle weakness
- Dosing of digoxin load IV:
- LD usually given:
50% of calculated LD as an IV or PO bolus then 25% of calculated LD q6h x 2
- Could calculate based on IBW (challenging as wt unknown and pt has scoliosis)
- If estimate: ~50kg + 5 feet 5, IBW = 56.5kg, CrCl = 16 mL/min,
LD = 0.56-1.13mg (0.01-0.02mg/kg *IBW/F)
- If renal impairment (avoid in AKI if possible): reduce loading dose by 50%
- LD = 0.28-0.56mg
(Max ~ 0.25mg IV, then 6 hours later – 0.125mg IV Q6H x 2 doses)
- Could also give PO (F: 07 for tablets)
- UTD states may generally admin as loading dose: 0.25mg with repeat dosing to a max of 1.5mg over 24hrs
- In acute renal failure: pt Vd may be increased and reduction in LD may not be necessary; however, maintenance dosing will require adjustment
- VGH PDTM:
- Digitalization: 0.01 to 0.015 mg/kg of lean body weight divided into 2 or 3 equal parts and given at 6 hourly intervals
- Monitoring of digoxin loads:
- at least 4 -6 hrs after an IV dose
- at least 6-12 hrs after a PO dose
- For elderly – consider having max dose as 75% of LD – e.g. 0.5mg IV then 0.25mg IV 6 hours post, or just 1 dose of digoxin 0.5mg IV
- Other option for rate control in the setting of hypotension and shock:
amiodarone infusion (no renal dosing adjustment necessary for renal impairment)
Clinical Pharmacy Note RE: Lithium
ID: 64 yo male admitted for hypoxemic respiratory failure secondary to aspiration pneumonia (also has R sided petroclival meningioma)
- RASS 0 to -1. AO x3 (to month and year)
- Squeezed writer’s hand when asked if feeling confused, seeing and feeling things that are not there, feeling very tired, as well as, for dry mouth and increased thirst which is new fo rhim today (Lasix IV BID stopped today and had ++ oral secretions earlier today)
- Currently on Lithium 300mg PO HS for query bipolar/mood disorder
- Dose was reduced from 600mg PO HS in ICU due to AKI
- Lithium level (Mar 13): <0.2 mmol/L, eGFR 97mL/min (stable)
- According to P’net, was on Lithium 600mg PO HS
(?compliance as last filled 7 days supply in Dec 2016)
- Spoke to psych regarding indication and plan for lithium:
- Psych spoke to his community psychiatrist who did not think the diagnosis for bipolar/mood disorder was strong. According to community psychiatrist, patient was kept on lithium 600mg PO HS in community as patient has failed multiple antidepressants in the past and patient felt that there was some benefit from lithium.
- Given his clinical state and unclear history of indication and efficacy of lithium, psych suggests continuing on current dose of lithium and reassessing when patient is more stable.
- Level drawn appropriately ~12 hours post dose and at steady state
- At his current subtherapeutic level, lithium is likely not effective for his query bipolar/mood disorder. However, given his clinical situation (also currently managing his delirium), efficacy of lithium is challenging to assess
- If renal function continues to be stable, it is unlikely that levels will become therapeutic with current dose.
- There is a potential drug interaction where lithium may enhance neurotoxic effects and EPS symptoms with antipsychotics which is currently used being to manage his delirium. Risk is low as patient is on low doses of antipsychotics (Haldol 2.5mg NG PO Q6H, Nozinan 25mg PO daily at 2100h)
- Continue lithium 300mg PO HS and reassess indication and efficacy of lithium when patient is out of critical care state
- When patient is out of critical care state and more stable (e.g. delirium resolved), reassess indication and efficacy of lithium for query bipolar/mood disorder
- Daily monitoring of side effects of lithium: ataxia, seizures, tremors, dry mouth, worsening of sialorrhea, N/V/D, and EPS symptoms: spasms, muscle contractions, motor restlessness, tremors
- Daily monitoring of renal function (sCr, eGFR) while in ICU