Fellowship Sponsor Company: UCB/IPhO
Function/Discipline: Global Regulatory Strategy
Fellowship Years: 2018—2020
Alma Mater: University of Illinois at Chicago - College of Pharmacy, Class of 2018
Pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry comes easy to some, but can be a discovery process for others. For me, I felt it was a little of both. I knew I wanted to pursue a non-traditional career path and I knew I wanted it to be in industry, but the discovery for me was deciding which function was the best fit. Industry provides opportunities for pharmacists to grow exponentially, which is what initially intrigued me and drew me in. Regardless of which company you choose, you will be faced with challenges and opportunities that will require the scientific knowledge gained in pharmacy school, and will allow you to apply skills such as critical thinking and strategic planning. The growth acquired from these opportunities can completely change the dynamic of a pharmacist's career. After learning more about industry I came to understand that not everything is black and white, and pharmacists have been and can continue to be trained to create the grey that is necessary to ensure medications in development are truly meeting an unmet global need.
Company and Department: Sanofi Genzyme, Medical Affairs
Current Role: Medical Science Liaison
Alma Mater: University of Southern California, Class of 2006
After earning an undergraduate degree in biology, I started working at Amgen in the preclinical research department. It was there that I discovered my love for working in the pharmaceutical industry. More than anything, I enjoyed being surrounded by innovation and cutting-edge science, where the ultimate goal was simple: to help patients. I was encouraged by a PhD coworker to continue my education and I decided to pursue a doctorate of pharmacy. I was admitted to USC pharmacy school, where I spent every day gaining knowledge and growing more appreciative of my education. With the help of two other classmates, I started the Student Industry Association where pharmacy students could learn about careers in industry.
Company and Department: PTC Therapeutics, Business Operations
Current Role: Senior Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships
Alma Mater: University of Florida, Class of 2010
During my first rotation, I came up with what I thought was a great idea for an article. I spent a number of hours researching the topic and finally mustered up the courage to share the idea with one of my professors, Dr. Epstein. While he appreciated the enthusiasm, he gave me a particularly skeptical look when I told him I would like to publish the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine. We ultimately collaborated on a different project, which became the start of a great relationship that would end in a journey to industry and beyond.
I then decided to pursue a fellowship at the East Coast Institute for Research (ECIR) with Drs. Epstein and Choksi. My two years would be spent teaching, researching (phase 2-4), and publishing manuscripts. ECIR also had a separate arm that consulted for a wide range of pharmaceutical companies like AZ and Novartis. This was where I got my first exposure to industry and I absolutely fell in love.
Company and Department: Accelovance, Inc., Medical Writing
Current Role: Medical Writer
Alma Mater: University of Maryland, Class of 2018
Throughout pharmacy school, I sought a non-traditional career path and perceived the pharmaceutical industry to be a world of endless excitement and innovation. The core of my pharmacy training was clinically-focused, so I gained skills that would help me prosper in industry.
I spent most of my extracurricular time engaging in international pharmacy enterprises by traveling to six different countries throughout pharmacy school: Honduras, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Singapore, and Australia. My key strategy for retaining the clinical skills I acquired in each location was to thoroughly document my experiences and reflections and share them with my professional network. I sought out opportunities to publish my reflections via a variety of pharmacy platforms and learned very quickly that I enjoyed writing – so much so that I would then pivot into industry by showcasing my communication and articulation skills.
Company and Department: Pfizer, Medical Affairs
Current Role: Medical Outcomes Specialist
Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin–Madison, Class of 2004
When I entered pharmacy school in 2000, an industry career was not on my radar. I was working as a pharmacy technician at a large retail chain and planned to continue my career there as a pharmacist. During my fourth year of pharmacy school, I was in a 6-week rotation with a pharmacist working in Medical Affairs at Pfizer. This was when I first became fascinated by the idea of an industry career path.
Despite my fascination, I did continue to work as a retail pharmacist after graduation. I worked in various locations and positions, including a staff pharmacist and pharmacy manager. Although I enjoyed working closely and directly with patients, I realized after 7 years that I was ready to make a career change.
Company: Recently Retired Executive Director, Regulatory Promotion and Material Compliance, Amgen
Current Role: Consultant
Alma Mater: Purdue University
As pharmacists, we have skills that qualify us for many different roles – reading the other IPhO member journeys on this website shows the many diverse areas where PharmDs are leading successful careers. You have many options – the key is figuring out what you like to do best. Don’t be afraid to make big changes or sacrifices in the short term to get you where you want to go long term.
In my career journey, I made some big changes to figure out my career options and passion. After working a number of years as a hospital pharmacist gaining clinical experience, I came to a point in my life where I wanted to explore other career options.
Fellowship Sponsor Company: GlaskoSmithKline (GSK) and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (UNC)
Function/Discipline: Global Regulatory Affairs
Fellowship Years: 2017 – 2019
Alma Mater: Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), Class of 2017
My strong interest in regulatory affairs originated from my cooperative education placements, and my employment within the Federal Government. I witnessed the dynamics between policy and science and developed an understanding of regulatory affairs and drug development through various employment experiences. My positions within Health Canada, community pharmacies internationally, and industry settings at Novartis and Becton Dickinson helped me become familiar with pre-market regulatory review and post-market surveillance.
Company and Department: Genentech, Field Medical
Current Role: Senior Medical Science Liaison
Alma Mater: University of Pittsburgh, Class of 1998
I first learned about postions for pharmacists in industry while observing my faculty mentors move into Medical Science Liaison (MSL) roles. They were strong leaders and outstanding clinicians at the University of Pittsburgh, so their transition caught my attention. My residency was clinically-based in ambulatory care and managed care at the University of Maryland. I then moved into a clinical pharmacy position in managed care, where I had significant exposure to and involvement in new drug presentations from MSLs and Industry Account Managers, many of whom were recruiting me to work in the Pharmaceutical Industry. My clinical experience in managing psychiatric patients in insurance initiatives gave me insight that was helpful as I learned about open positions in industry. I decided to make the switch and interview for my first industry MSL position in neuroscience, and I was offered the job.
What's the bottom line?
Your clinical knowledge and experience gained during rotations and/or residency are valuable assets to industry employers. Utilize those skills as you network to help you break into industry in a nontraditional way.
Company and Department: Prometic, Field Medical
Current Role: Medical Science Liaison
Alma Mater: Fairleigh Dickinson University, Class of 2017
I have always wanted to impact patient lives and health care on a global scale, and I ultimately discovered that the best way for me to do that was through the pharmaceutical industry, although the road to getting there was not a straightforward one.
Fellowship Sponsor Company: DDB Health (Omnicom Health Group)
Function/Discipline: Pharmaceutical Advertising and Marketing
Fellowship Years: 2017-2019
Alma Mater: Rutgers University, Class of 2017
I never imagined that one day I would use my pharmaceutical background to assist with virtual reality experiences, video shoots, and podcasts. I knew early on in pharmacy school that I was interested in a somewhat non-traditional path. Before applying to pharmacy school, I was only aware of community and hospital pharmacy. After taking a class about the pharmaceutical industry at Rutgers, I learned that pharmacists have the potential to impact patients and healthcare on a national or even global level. I decided to explore that path further and took an Pharmaceutical Advertising and Marketing elective course. I was intrigued by the fact that this career path would allow me to use my scientific knowledge while incorporating creative elements. I was fortunate to intern at two pharmaceutical advertising agencies, RevHealth and Harrison and Star, which solidified my interest in this career path.