Meet Dan Corrigan

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Finding purpose: How Dan Corrigan discovered oncology pharmacy was the perfect fit

When Dan Corrigan made the decision to leave his retail pharmacy career in Canada in 2007, he never thought his next chapter would evolve into providing clinical cancer care with Icon Group. But our Oncology Pharmacist stepped out of his comfort zone and gained a connected new family because of it.

Dan is ruthlessly competitive on the ice, but his care and advocacy for his patients in the oncology ward is even more fierce, and we feel lucky to have him on board.

Connection, at heart

For Dan Corrigan, the road to becoming an Oncology Pharmacist took him to the other side of the world, and he’s glad it did.

After graduating as a Pharmacist from the University of Alberta in 2001, Dan worked in a series of community pharmacies before moving to Australia in 2007.

He continued his journey in retail until 2015, when an opportunity arose to join Icon’s pharmacy division, in the Slade Pharmacy dispensary at Gosford Private Hospital.

Dan’s first experience in hospital pharmacy came with some hesitations, particularly when the position changed and he was asked to join the oncology ward.

“It was definitely out of my comfort zone,” Dan says. “But when I took the time to really consider it, I realised it was a really good fit and I’ve been here ever since.”

Now having been an Oncology Pharmacist for more than seven years, Dan feels lucky to have been “adopted” into two team families. As their resident Canadian, he feels well looked after, and values the connection and camaraderie he’s found within his role.

“I feel lucky to have plenty of people I can talk to, and I feel supported by all of them, whether they’re from my nursing/oncology family or my pharmacy family upstairs. Right from the beginning of my day, I’m working with a multidisciplinary oncology team, and being an important member of this team feels very rewarding professionally.”

Dan typically starts his day with a morning huddle in the oncology ward, where he gets briefed on the new patients he’ll be meeting, the existing ones he’ll be checking in on, and any other general happenings around the hospital. For any patients beginning their treatment journey, Dan takes additional time to listen to their stories, creating a safe and supportive space in what can be an immensely challenging time.

“As well as counselling patients on their chemotherapy plan and take-home medications, I also like to have a really good chat with them and their family, and make sure I answer any questions they have,” Dan says. “Developing that relationship with my patients is important so they feel comfortable and confident in the advice I provide and at future visits, they can ask for me personally. Patient interaction is a lot of what I do in this role, and I find it incredibly rewarding.”

Impact, at scale

Dan sees the impact of his hard work every day, even in the smallest moments of care he gives to his patients. He does whatever he can to make their lives easier, whether that’s making a calendar for them to keep track of their chemotherapy schedule or answering any questions they have about their medication. Dan’s gained a lot of knowledge over his years in oncology and tries to pass on as much advice as he can to help his patients through their treatment.

“It’s a very gratifying role. You feel appreciated because even the little things you do can mean a lot to your patients. There are times when you can’t help, and they are the most challenging times, but even something as small as genuinely asking how they are can be a bright light in a dark time. You feel like you’re making a difference in everything you do, whether big or small.”

Dan feels fortunate that his role allows him to connect with other oncology pharmacists through Icon Group’s inbuilt network, to share knowledge and expertise that help patients as they progress through their treatment. It not only provides professional connection, but also personal connection, which has a huge impact in this challenging industry.

“Getting to know your patients as well as I do can be a double-edged sword at times, because oncology can be a very sad field. But our team here are very supportive of each other, and Icon has a lot of support services you can access as well. It’s nice to know there’s people you can talk to who have been in the same situation.”

Opportunity, at hand

Dan has certainly thrived in his role, and has found many opportunities to develop his skills, taking part in many of the weekly education seminars offered at Icon. Dan’s caring nature has earned him the respect of oncologists and haematologists, who witness his fierce patient advocacy. His desire to make a difference doesn’t go unnoticed by his pharmacy peers, either.

“I felt honoured to be nominated for the ‘On Purpose’ value category in Icon’s 2018 annual awards, and my wife and I got to travel up to Brisbane for the awards night. To have been recognised by peers felt really acknowledging, and that’s what Icon’s values are all about – connecting with people and working together to provide the best patient care possible. That’s what I try to do every day.”

As Dan continues to deliver exceptional care to his patients, he likes to unwind in a typical Canadian fashion: playing ice hockey!

“It’s probably a huge surprise, but I really like ice hockey. There’s a rink only 20 minutes from my house that lots of other Canadians go to, so that’s my social and exercise time for the week.”

As Dan gets closer to celebrating his 10-year anniversary with Icon Group, there’s plenty he still wants to achieve in his career. He’s intrigued by the research side of pharmacy and was inspired by a recent Icon education seminar to refine this goal.

“I’d like to focus on using my position and experience with patient contact to try to embark on a research project that improves patient care beyond the scope of my own unit. That’s definitely where I’m looking to progress professionally.”

For someone who never saw themselves going into oncology pharmacy, Dan doesn’t regret a moment of his journey, and is glad he took the leap. He encourages anyone else looking for a new career to do the same.

“A lot of people are scared of oncology because it’s out of their comfort zone. Yes, it can be challenging at times, but it’s more rewarding than I could have imagined. I’ve been in this role a long time, but oncology is such a dynamic and constantly changing field, so it’s always been interesting. For anyone looking into oncology pharmacy, I’d tell them not to be scared and to try new things, because they might surprise themselves.”

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