Oncology pharmacist makes a difference

When COP alumna and preceptor Morgane Diven graduated from college, she didn’t know what she wanted to do.

“I studied biology in my undergrad,” Diven explains. “But I knew that I didn’t want to go to medical school, I didn’t want to be a dentist, I didn’t want to be a vet, I didn’t want to be a nurse and I didn’t want to do bench research. That was basically all I knew that I could do with my biology training.”

She decided to move to Washington D.C. and took a job working as a database manager.

“I was hired by a woman who didn’t know anything about computers,” Diven says, “so she didn’t know that I didn’t know anything.”

After a brief stint with information technology, Diven moved to Phoenix and decided to go back to school. A friend of hers suggested pharmacy, and so Diven ended up coming to the UA College of Pharmacy as part of the Class of 2008. It was in her third year when Diven discovered her career focus.

“A very good family friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I remember that he died in complete agony. They just couldn’t get his pain under control. This was horrible to me. In this day and age, no one should have to die in abject agony.”

Diven decided to specialize in oncology and completed both her residencies at the Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System. She is now a clinical oncology pharmacist at The University of Arizona Cancer Center – North Campus. She works primarily with the breast cancer and palliative care teams.

“The work I do can be challenging. The drugs used in cancer treatment are complex and change from year to year. But I feel good when I can help patients to manage their pain, nausea and vomiting. We can’t change their diagnoses, but we can make a difference.”

Adding to her busy schedule, Diven is also a College of Pharmacy preceptor and is coordinating rotations scheduled to begin in the fall. This will be the first time that the cancer center is going to have clinical pharmacy rotations.

“This is exciting,” Diven says. “A lot of students want to pursue oncology but there are not that many opportunities. Oncology provides a pharmacist the opportunity to interact with patients and work in an interprofessional environment. On a day-to-day basis, I don’t dispense or handle drugs. The majority of my time is spent collaborating and working with other team members. It takes a team to get a patient through chemotherapy.”

What does Diven look forward to in the future?

“I never thought I would say this, but I really love teaching. Eventually I would also love to run a residency program in oncology. There are a lot of opportunities for a pharmacist in oncology. The population is aging and the practice is growing. There is a growing need for pharmacists to help manage the medications.”

Story and photo by Larry Hogan Jr.

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