As part of this year’s virtual BC Kidney Days event on Nov. 5, we were delighted to have pharmacist Dr. Karen Shalansky, Pharmacotherapeutic Specialist in Nephrology at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), receive this year’s Wilma Crockett Memorial Award!
Dr. Dan Martinusen, BC Renal Provincial Director of Pharmacy, who was also co-nominator of Dr. Shalansky along with Dr. Judith Marin, Dr. Elaine Cheng and the VGH nephrology group, presented the award noting its significance in providing recognition from the province’s broad renal and kidney transplant community of an individual who has made outstanding contributions to patient care in BC.
Dr. Sharansky’s nomination outlines her amazing work ethic, undying enthusiasm and strong dedication to patient care, which are well known to anyone who has worked with her either within the pharmacy department, on the dialysis unit, on projects or through various committees.
We were so impressed by all the answers to the questions in the nomination form that we have drawn from them here to share a fuller picture of Dr. Shalansky’s contributions:
Karen has been working as a Clinical Pharmacotherapeutic Specialist in the hemodialysis unit at Vancouver General Hospital since 1996. Over the past 23 years, she has precepted countless Doctor of Pharmacy students, pharmacy residents and undergraduate Pharmacy students, as well as medical residents and nephrology fellows, during their nephrology rotations in shaping them to becoming better clinicians in their care of renal patients. In addition, Karen has been the past chair with the Renal Pharmacist Network, a national group of renal pharmacists dedicated to enhance the quality of patient care along the continuum of renal insufficiency.
Karen demonstrates leadership, dedication and commitment to exceptional patient care, education and mentorship to others. Karen’s amazing work ethic, undying enthusiasm and strong dedication to patient care are well known to anyone who has worked with her either within the pharmacy department, on the dialysis unit, on project or through various committees. Karen works long hours and will always respond to anyone’s emails or questions in a timely manner and often during her days off. Her going above and beyond attitude has won her the well-deserved Mentorship Award and the Distinguished Service Award at the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists-BC Branch.
Karen has been actively involved in protocols and guidelines development with BC Renal to help guide best practices in the care of hemodialysis patients, including catheter-related bacteremia protocol, alteplase use, EMLA use for cannulation pain, hepatitis B vaccination, IDPN guideline, etc. In addition, Karen has given numerous invited and poster presentations at national or local pharmacy and nephrology conferences, e.g., Canadian Society of Nephrology Annual General Meeting, BC Kidney Days, Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists Annual General Meetings. She has also numerous publications related to care of hemodialysis patients.
Karen’s quest for knowledge has led her to conducting numerous research projects over her career, including cutting edge research where information was relatively scarce in the literature at the time, e.g., “Creation of a Natural Health Products Database for Assessing Safety in Chronic Kidney Disease and Renal Transplant” and “Acute Kidney Injury with Tobramycin-Impregnated Bone Cement Spacers in Prosthetic Joint Infections.” Many of her research were recognized at national or local pharmacy and nephrology conferences as award winning projects.
Improving patient care is the main goal behind all the projects that Karen gets involved with, and she makes sure to communicate this priority to her mentees.
For example, Karen was involved in the creation of a web database helping patients assess the safety of natural products depending on their CKD stage, their type of dialysis or if they are transplant. Improving patient’s access to adequate information is very important for her, and this is just an example of it.
Not only did Karen mentor a long list of Doctors of Clinical Pharmacy, pharmacy residents and pharmacy students during their nephrology rotations, she also ensures new pharmacists starting in nephrology are well supported in their roles by providing the necessary mentorship and guidance. This might include job shadowing or working alongside the new pharmacists until they feel ready to take care of patients independently or helping to answer or research any practice related dilemma that new pharmacists might not have enough experience in providing the best solution, despite her own busy workload.
Karen regularly engages nephrology pharmacists to get involved beyond their day-to-day patient care activities, e.g., collaborating on research projects, teaching at the university or giving presentations at conferences. For example, when she was the Section Coordinator for the nephrology module at the Doctor of Pharmacy Program at the University of British Columbia, she would invite other nephrology pharmacists to share their expertise and teach various nephrology topics. She would also regularly engage nephrology pharmacists at her own site to precept pharmacy students, to pass on the clinical skills and knowledge to the next generation of pharmacists.
As a mentor to pharmacists in the hemodialysis unit, she always put a strong emphasis on what other team members can teach and help with. She encouraged students to address appropriate questions to allied health colleagues. She has invited dietitians to conferences she organized to discuss pharmacotherapeutic issues having an impact on a patient’s diet. She also always values the input from other allied team members in different committees that she is involved with.
For more about the Wilma Crockett Memorial Award and Dr. Shalansky’s bio, please see here.