Pharmaceutical Industry: More than One Way In

By: David Ong, Pharm.D. Candidate c/o 2014

There are many research opportunities available for pharmacists after graduation. However, most pharmacy students do not know enough about these opportunities as they progress through pharmacy school. Jason Lee, a guest speaker at the monthly Drug Information Association meeting, explained the different aspects of industry and industry fellowships. He discussed broad concepts, ranging from the vigilance needed in drug safety to the nuances between Medical Communications and Medical Science Liaison. He elaborated on what is expected from pharmacists in different positions in the pharmaceutical industry.

A fellowship is traditionally defined as “a directed, highly individualized, postgraduate program designed to prepare the participant to become an independent researcher.”1 A traditional fellowship gives the pharmacist an opportunity to grow and progress in the research side of biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries. On the other hand, industry fellowships “prepare candidates for a career in industry [by providing] […] skills and knowledge in clinical research, regulatory affairs, medical affairs, information, pharmacovigilance, and other areas essential to a successful industry career.”1

Although everyone appreciated the practical information that Jason shared, it was his remarkable journey that really inspired the audience. Similar to many in the audience, Jason grew interested in the pharmaceutical industry while studying in school. During rotations, he decided to take on as many industry rotation sites as he could in order to understand and pursue his interest. When time came to further his career, Jason was not so fortunate. The fellowship programs he interviewed for did not see him as the best candidate. However, despite all the adversity and hardship, he did not give up. He continued to search for positions in industry and build his repertoire for about three months, in hopes of landing his dream job. On one unexpected drive to Subway, he received a call. Earlier that month, a friend on Facebook contacted him in regards to a job opening. He had sent in his CV without high expectations. Little did he know that he was about to land a great position in the Medical Communications department at Actavis as a Medical Communications Specialist.

At the meeting, Jason emphasized the importance of not getting discouraged by missed opportunities. He stressed that one should still strive for excellence in academia.. Making connections and strengthening old ones is vital to creating new opportunities for ones career. In addition to self-improvement, he spoke about utilizing various sources available to get ones name out to other companies through recruiters or head hunters (e.g. While Jason’s story may sound unlikely and may require a bit of luck, it proves that with enough perseverance and a little bit of knowhow, anything is possible. In the words of Jason Lee, “Follow your dreams.”


  1. Larochelle PA, Giang DK, Silva MA, et al. Post-PharmD Industry Fellowship Opportunities and Proposed Guidelines for Uniformity. Am J Pharm Educ. 2009 February 19;73(1):20. Accessed April 20,2013.PMCID:PMC2690870
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