Dr. Rania Bazzi, PharmD: Clinical Oncology Pharmacist

Academic and Professional Background

Dr. Rania Bazzi, PharmD is a Clinical Hematology/Oncology Pharmacist at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, MI. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2017 from the University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences before going on to complete a post-graduate residency in clinical oncology at the Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, CA. 

As a clinical oncology pharmacist, Dr. Bazzi is involved with treatment of cancer patients at almost every phase of care. Clinical oncology pharmacists work directly with cancer patients and oncologists to assess and diagnose, make treatment decisions, manage medications and symptoms, and offer their patients supportive care.

As the oncology specialty continues to endure higher costs for therapies, medication shortages, reimbursement and coverage cuts, and constant changes to regulations, clinical oncology pharmacists are heavily relied upon to facilitate successful chemotherapy treatment and care. As such, clinical pharmacists must possess a well-rounded leadership style with excellent communication and problem-solving skills. As a leader and best delivering care at UM Health Systems, Dr. Bazzi is an exemplar healthcare professional and equally exceptional human.

This unique knowledge share provides personable insight about many challenges to oncological treatment. As many specialties fail to embrace the qualities of integrative healthcare models, clinical heme/onc pharmacists provide a paradigm for interdisciplinary care models and their potential value in medicine.

1.) As a clinical oncology pharmacist, please choose 5 from the following and rate them from most significant to least significant in terms of their relative impact on extending the quantity and quality of life for cancer patients:

Rising Cost of Treatment, Health Policy, Patient-Centered Care, Patient Compliance, Patient Education, Treatment Maintenance (dosing and administration), Burnout, Medication Delivery, Research and Development, Drug Related Problems (and/or Medication Management):

  1. Drug Related Problems/Medication Management

  2. Research and Development

  3. Burnout

  4. Rising Cost of Treatment

  5. Treatment Maintenance (Dosing & Administration)

2.) Please provide insight from your own clinical experiences as a specialty pharmacy provider regarding your #1 choice above.

“The field of oncology encompasses a variety of chemotherapy and immunotherapy regimens for various indications. Many of the regimens used have numerous side effects, some of which can be very difficult for patients, and therefore, may result in a dose reduction or even complete omission of therapy. Pharmacy specialists play a large role in educating patients on the side effects of these regimens as well as provide patients with different ways to manage the side effects. Follow-up during therapy also plays a large role, whereby potential side effects can be noticed and treated early in the course of a patient’s therapy.”

3.) What qualities do you think future leaders in clinical heme/onc pharmacy need to develop in order to overcome the fields challenges and facilitate better cancer care for patients?

Strong communication and advocating for more collaborative practice agreements with the hem/onc medical team, which will give pharmacists more autonomy leading to an increase in services that pharmacists can provide. 

4.) What is the single most valuable piece of advice you could offer pre-pharmacy students pursuing a career Specialty Pharmaceuticals?

Begin networking early. The field of pharmacy continues to grow across the U.S, and if your goal is to get involved in clinical pharmacy, a residency is needed. Obtaining a residency continues to get more competitive, therefore, it’s important to network. Networking does not only improve your chances of getting a residency/job, it also improves communication, which is a key quality we look for in all candidates.

5.) If there is a major issue or challenge not covered here that you feel passionately about and would like to discuss, or something healthcare and/or specialty pharmacy related, please feel free to discuss in as much detail as you’d like.

I highly encourage any student pursuing pharmacy to always seek to learn more about different opportunities while in school and still capable. The field of pharmacy has a wide range of career areas so I would encourage pre-pharmacy students to explore internships, rotations, volunteer/shadowing experiences, etc.