Staff profiles

Diana Harkin
Oncology pharmacist

Diana helps to make sure our patients receiving parenteral cancer treatment receive the correct medication and at the right dose for their clinical status.  This means thinking about other conditions, their kidney or liver function and other medications.

Cancer treatments are often considered high risk due to the nature of the side-effects they can cause. To ensure patients and staff are kept as safe as possible during dispensing and administration processes our treatments are made by an aseptic compounding company offsite. This means Diana’s role also involves lots of logistical challenges to make sure we receive the correct treatments on time.

Tell us about your team
I work closely with the doctors and nurses in oncology to ensure we provide safe and timely treatment. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring safe cancer treatment. In the Pharmacy Department I work with technicians and other pharmacists to ensure our processes are robust and there are safety checks in place to ensure the patient received the right treatment.

Are you working on any special projects?
I was recently involved in rolling out Mosaiq at Taranaki DHB which is a clinical database used by oncology/haematology and radiation oncology. We use it to electronically prescribe, dispense and administer chemotherapy. It also allows us to share information more easily with MidCentral DHB, our regional cancer treatment service. It has meant changing some of our processes which was challenging at times but it seems to be working well!

I’m currently working with a group of health professionals to ensure safe prescribing of IV cyclophosphamide (a chemotherapy drug) to non-cancer patients. I’m also involved in training our intern pharmacists, our current intern is nearly ready for her final exam!  

How did you get to this point in your career?
I grew up in the UK which is where I started my pharmacy career. After university, I completed my pre-registration year at Sherwood Forest Hospitals in Nottinghamshire and I then worked as a rotational pharmacist at a hospital in Buckinghamshire which provided me with well-rounded clinical experience. I completed a couple of rotations in oncology/haematology and aseptic production which sparked my interest in cancer. Once I completed some postgrad study in clinical pharmacy I felt like a change, so I moved to Taranaki in 2015 and I haven’t left.

I worked in community pharmacy in South Taranaki for a couple years before returning to hospital pharmacy. It provided me with a great opportunity to get to know the community. I’m currently undertaking some postgrad study in cancer sciences through University of Melbourne to broaden my knowledge of cancer care.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people I work with! I work with a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, admin and pharmacy staff. It’s great to be able to work with everyone to make a significant contribution to patient care.

What inspires you to keep doing your work?
Thinking about the impact of the work I do, or the advice I give which has on optimising care for patients, even if it’s in a small way.  

Do you have any big plans or dreams you want to tell us about?
It would be great to have more time allocated to the oncology pharmacist role to allow it to grow. It would be great to be able to support my oncology colleagues to provide patient education for cancer treatment and supportive medications.


Last updated: Wednesday, November 3, 2021

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