Robert Mancini, PharmD BCOP
Bone Marrow Transplant Pharmacy Program Coordinator
PGY-2 Oncology Residency Program Director
St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute
Clinical Adjunct Faculty–Oncology
Idaho State University, College of Pharmacy
Boise/Meridian, ID

Rowena “Moe” Schwartz, PharmD BCOP, was the winner of the 2014 HOPA Award of Excellence. This award, first given in 2005, recognizes a member who has made a significant and sustained contribution to improving or supporting hematology/oncology pharmacy or has given excellent leadership in that area. The award winners receive a lifetime membership in HOPA and are recognized at an awards ceremony at HOPA’s annual conference and given a platform presentation regarding their contributions. Moe serves as an associate professor of pharmacy practice with a focus in hematology/oncology at the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy. She also works with UC Health and aids participation in phase 1 clinical trials.

In a December 2017 interview, she spoke about her career and what this award has meant to her.

What first drew you to HOPA, and how long have you been a member?

I was fortunate to be at the 2004 Making a Difference in Oncology (MAD-ONC) meeting when the idea of an oncology pharmacy organization was presented to the participants by a group of oncology pharmacy leaders. As I listened to the pitch, I recognized an opportunity to be part of an organized group that could provide a foundation for pharmacists working in hematology and oncology.

I am proud to have signed on to the concept at that meeting through a donation that makes me a “founding” member. I was also asked to participate in a work group following the MAD-ONC meeting that helped to develop the concept of HOPA, and I have been an active HOPA member ever since its founding.

How have you been involved in HOPA over the years?

I joined HOPA because I value the collaboration of oncology pharmacists. I have served on a number of committees since the organization began, and I have enjoyed working with other dedicated HOPA members to carry out the work of the organization.

I didn’t think about running for the board of directors when HOPA began—I had not held a leadership role in any other organization. I wanted to learn how to work in an organization. I was able to learn more about organizational leadership through HOPA and subsequently served on the board and as president. My experience with HOPA helped provide a broad understanding of organizations, and when I ran for president of the International Society of Oncology Pharmacy Practitioners (ISOPP), it was because of what I had learned during my time on the HOPA board.

Once you have been on a board, it can be difficult to watch others lead the organization, but new leadership is so important if an organization is to evolve. New leadership is crucial to HOPA’s continued growth.

What have you done to improve oncology pharmacy care at your places of employment that may have contributed to your winning this award?

I became an oncology pharmacist at the University of Pittsburgh early in my career. I was fortunate to have the support of a dean and my department chair at the University of Pittsburgh and the clinical leadership of University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) to develop pharmacy services for the newly formed institute. The services were developed in collaboration with a group of oncology pharmacists who took a big leap in starting oncology pharmacy services in inpatient, outpatient, and investigational drug services. Right place, right time, right team—and the energy to change the status quo.

What did winning this Award mean to you?

One of the best parts of winning this award was taking time to think about the people I have met during my career. So many people have touched my life and helped me learn how to be a better oncology pharmacist, but I realize that I haven’t always expressed my thanks. I wanted to publicly say “thank you” to those people, even if they weren’t present. This award gave me that opportunity.

How has receiving this award influenced your career development or career path?

It helped me realize how important it is to thank people at every opportunity. My successes were almost always shared successes. As oncology pharmacists, we see, far too often, that life can change in a moment. It is so important to show people that you appreciate them, in the moment.

What career or personal advice do you have for established or new oncology pharmacists?

As I age, I find I have more advice than people want to hear, so I am going to try to hit just a few key points.

  • Lead with your strengths. I realize that this is not an original thought, but when I finally understood this concept during a leadership program, I realized the power of going forward with your strengths and partnering with people who have skills and strengths that you don’t have.
  • Mentors are not assigned. I value the people who have helped me throughout my career, and they were often people with very different world views.
  • Expressing your ideas is important, but learning when not to express those ideas is even more important. (I still work on this, obviously.)

If you could describe oncology pharmacists in one sentence, what would you say?

An oncology pharmacist is an individual who contributes to optimal cancer care through the application of individualized drug therapy.
(That was really hard!)