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Dec. 18, 2015 – MCI pharmacist earns oncology board certification

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Dr. Benjamin Brandt, PharmD, associate chief pharmacist at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, has become one of 11 pharmacists in Alabama, and the only one in Mobile, to hold board certification in oncology.

 “Ben is a wonderful asset to MCI, and we are proud of his accomplishment,” said MCI Director Dr. Michael Finan. “This certification confirms that he is a true expert in the medications used to treat cancer.”

Brandt oversees the in-house pharmacy at MCI, which dispenses chemotherapy and other cancer medications. He also helps ensure that safety procedures and best practices are followed, whether with routine drugs or with drugs used in MCI’s clinical trials.

“We look at the dose, the patient’s weight and review the labs,” said Brandt, a Birmingham native who joined MCI as a staff pharmacist in 2011. “We’re that last check before the drugs go out the window. It’s a big responsibility.”

Brandt said that cancer medications make up a large percentage of all new drugs currently being approved by the FDA. “We’re starting to see more small-molecule drugs, working on specific sites,” he said. “They’re more targeted.” 

On a recent Friday, pharmacy technicians wore protective clothing as they prepared IV chemotherapy for use in the nearby Infusion Suite. The gear is to protect employees from long-term exposure to the drugs.

Oncology is one of eight specialties for which pharmacists may earn board certification, according to the Board of Pharmacy Specialties, based in Washington, D.C.  

Brandt said that demand for pharmacy certification is growing. “I think this is happening because of multiple reasons,” he said. “The certification allows pharmacists to show that they have demonstrated a higher competence in their area of expertise. For me, personally, I feel that I have a higher level of confidence when working with of members of the health care team.”

In addition, employers are seeking board-certified pharmacists for clinical positions, and pharmacists are answering the call as they seek to advance their careers, he said.

Brandt earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and a doctorate in pharmacy from Auburn University. He moved to Mobile eight years ago and was able to earn his pharmacy degree through a satellite program offered by Auburn at the University of South Alabama.

He and his wife, Allison, live in Spanish Fort with their daughter, Madeline Kate.

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