I come from a family of healthcare professionals and have always been passionate about science, so pharmacy seemed to be a perfect fit for me.
I undertook my undergraduate at the University of East Anglia between 2006 and 2010 and completed my pre-registration year in 2011. As I worked part-time as a counter assistant in community during my degree I wanted to take the opportunity to increase my experience in hospital pharmacy.
By Tarquin Bennett – Coles, Principle Consultant at Carmichael Fisher
The Life science sector is a vibrant and constantly changing environment that can suit those who like to take educated risks with start-up ventures or those who want a more secure long-term career within a large organisation. Getting into the sector is still people/connection based so establishing a network and reliable advocates will help you make the first step. If you can find a person you can interact with rather than using an online portal then this will improve your chances.
Deciding on the right role and company for you will require some due diligence on the company values and culture. Most of this can be achieved online. Glassdoor is a useful tool to see what people say about a business, good and bad.
Nevertheless, having someone you can talk to who actually works at the company you are interested in is even more useful. If you can use your network to help you achieve this, then it will give you a head start.
To make the right step also requires some realistic self-assessment.
You can use online tools for this or If you can find someone you work with and ask them how you come across in meetings or day to day you can find out a great deal about how you are perceived. It is also worth thinking about what motivates you, what will drive you to get up for work or travel a long way for a meeting? Do you like to work in a group or independently? Even at an early stage it is well worth thinking about where you would like to land after the role you are applying for. Having this in mind will help you weigh up the potential of the position now and as part of your broader career aspirations even if they change.
Some individuals choose to join the sector via a service organisation then move across to biophama or MedTech businesses once they have their network in place. This includes joining life science teams in the large consulting houses (PwC, E&Y, McKinsey etc), boutique players (Huron, Cambridge Consultants, Sagentia), outsourcing businesses like a Contract or Clinical Research Organisations (CROs – IQVIA, Paraxel, Covance etc) or biopharma sales companies.
Others, choose to start out in a corporate setting via the City (equity analysis), private equity or venture capital businesses and then transition across.
In addition, the emerging data and digital space means some technology players (Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung etc) are moving into the healthcare sector and they require experts with an understanding of life sciences sector so this may also offer a way in. Hot areas of growth also include diagnostics & biomarker businesses, AI/Machine Learning, data science and digital health companies.
Once you have gained some experience, or if you want to make the step immediately, then there are some key skills and experiences that companies most value. If you can highlight these when you apply or at interview then they will help differentiate you and increase your chances of an offer.
Demonstrable track record of success.
Examples of persuasion and influence whilst working outside your area of management control
The ability to prioritise between the urgent and important.
Expertise at working to tight deadlines and dealing with a fast paced environment for service delivery & communication (this should suit all pharmacists).
Project management skills & the ability to switch focus/direction due rapid market shifts or new convergent technologies.
Right now certain functions and disciplines are in particularly high demand. These include, analytics, data science, informatics, medical affairs and information, toxicology, pharmacology, business development, clinical development, regulatory affairs, market access and pricing and reimbursement.
Another thing to consider before you join the industry is to choose a location where there is a cluster of companies and sector support businesses already located there. This will increase the opportunity for you to progress and find alternative work if the position does not work out or the company goes through a major transformation or acquisition. In 2019 we are seeing some major merger and acquisition activity. Most successful clusters (Cambridge, London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Cardiff etc) will also have good transport links, access to funding streams, academic and research hubs, hospitals and service businesses nearby.
Once you make the step do remember you are likely to be joining a sector where there will be five generations in the workplace (Gen Z – 18yrs old in 2018). Each generation defines success and working habits with a slightly different perspective so it is worth considering that if you are working in a cross-generational team or have a line manager from a different era.
In terms of what lies ahead you have a myriad of choices once you break into the sector so keep checking in on your own plans. Leadership agility is being highlighted as a future “must have” and so is some international experience so if you can add those to your existing skill set, then you will be in a good place to progress. Similarly, there are now more industry collaborations and partnerships than ever before so involvement in such projects will help you stand out. Good luck, you have an exciting future ahead.
Elisa Lee, Fourth Year MPharm student at Robert Gordon University
What I did
I was one of the few fortunate students who was elected as a volunteer for the 78th FIP world congress in Glasgow 2018.
I started my volunteering a few days before the event, along with other student volunteers from all over UK, where we were split into different working areas. These included FIP booth, press and speaker room, accreditation and registration, and poster session. On the first two days we helped set up the exhibition hall, work stations, equipment and helped pack badges.
I was part of the accreditation and registration group for the duration of the congress. My role consisted of handing out evaluation forms, recording any filled-out forms on excel and answering any questions regarding accreditation. I also helped at the registration desk, helping participants collect their membership badges, handing out programmes and helping with any other general enquiries. Read more Volunteering at FIP 2018 ›
By Kiri Aikman, Clinical Writer for Pharmaceutical Press
I caught the ‘FIP bug’ after attending my first world congress in Dublin in 2013. It was unexpected. I’d been to plenty of conferences before, but this one was different. The sheer scale, with around 3,000 delegates from over 20 counties, blew me away. Every attendee was passionate about enhancing pharmacy practice and used this international gathering to showcase their amazing work and learn about improving patient care.
FIP is the International Pharmaceutical Federation; the global voice of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. Being my first international conference, and as a junior pharmacist from little old New Zealand, I was more than a little nervous walking into this prestigious event. What I quickly learnt though, was that FIP was more of a pharmacy family; sharing ideas and opinions with like-minded people. They even have a “first timers” programme to ease you in and instantly make you feel comfortable.
Write a winning abstract and submit for our inaugural Winter Summit.
Want to hear about the latest innovations in medicines and pharmacy? Looking to get your M.Pharm project published in an international journal? Interested in a career in academia or pharmaceutical science?
Explore the latest innovations in pharmaceutical science and research and get your work published. Join us for the RPS Winter Summit!
A new event in the RPS calendar, the Winter Summit will bring together experts from within pharmacy and pharmaceutical science for a programme of cutting edge topics: big data, drug development and the future of education to name a few.
Submit an abstract
Abstract submissions for oral or poster presentation are welcomed from across the science and research spectrum, so whether you have been working in the lab or on a patient-facing project, we have an opportunity for you.
Pharmaceutical science and early stage clinical research will be published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (Impact Factor 2.405)
Health service research and pharmacy practice will be published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice
For more information about the submissions process and guidance visit the webpage here
Get help from the RPS in writing your abstract
So what is an abstract? An abstract is a concise summary of a project that allows readers to quickly identify its novelty, rigour and potential impact. Writing an abstract is an opportunity to share evidence widely and is a key component of most professional conferences; it is also an excellent starting point for those new to research looking to get their work recognised.
Writing winning abstracts. An abstract should be a summary of a project with a clear aim and concise design, method and results with meaningful conclusion.
Join us on September 7th for an instructional webinar to help prepare your abstract. The webinar will review abstract structure and give helpful tips on judging criteria and common pitfalls
Without pharmaceutical science, we would have no new medicines. Neither would it be possible to improve existing medicines, or understand how we could better use our existing medicines.
Those working in pharmaceutical science play a pivotal role in the discovery, design, formulation, manufacture, regulation and use of medicines with the ultimate goal of improving the health of patients.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is the dedicated professional body for pharmacists and pharmacy in England, Scotland and Wales.
Our blogs are written by experts and provide thought provoking information and commentary on health, health policy issues and lifestyle choices. Here you will find opinions and comments on topics related to public health and medicine safety.
We work with a variety of health, charity and business partners to help us highlight particular health issues and run successful health campaigns. We will be inviting guest bloggers from these organisations to help us create interesting, varied and engaging public content.