Simi Aguda, a second year Pharmacy student at the University of Portsmouth. I recently
had the opportunity to work within the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Education
and Professional Development.
first week began with an introduction to the different teams at the RPS by
Aamir Shaikh, a Professional Development Pharmacist who supports early career pharmacists.
met with the different departments and organisations within the Royal
Pharmaceutical Society, including the BNF, Pharmaceutical Journal, Education,
Team England, Events, Marketing and Professional Support. I was immediately
welcomed and was excited to see what the professional body of Pharmacists got
up to ‘behind the scenes.’
My first project was to review the RPS website from a student perspective, suggest improvements and present my findings to the Marketing Team. I needed to be analytical and precise and further develop my presentation skills, as well as evaluate whether the content of the website matched the needs of Pharmacy students like myself. After the presentation the changes were made to the website and my feedback was taken on board. I noticed how the RPS valued giving and receiving feedback, and that as a student my opinion and thoughts mattered. This has been an integral part of my experience and demystified my preconceptions of the RPS and their culture.
second project was analysing data collected from Pharmacy students and Pre-Registration
trainees and identifying changes and patterns from the data set and how this
could improve RPS membership. In addition, I had the opportunity to work with
Gareth Kitson, Professional Engagement Lead, whose role is to promote pharmacy
across England, as well as liaise with the media and Government to champion and
speak up for Pharmacy. This broadened my perception of potential pharmacy
I had the opportunity to meet with the head of Marketing, Neal Patel. I was
invited to discuss how the RPS can engage with students like myself, this was
an incredibly informative meeting and provided me with insight into how
dedicated the RPS is to helping Students, Pre-Registration trainees and
qualified pharmacists. The focus was always on how the RPS can support its
members. As a student I was unaware of the resources available for me. I have since
met other interns who were placed within the Pharmaceutical Journal, and we have
worked together to create content for the RPS digital channels.
I graduated with a master’s degree in pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast.I undertook my pre-registration year in a community pharmacy chain in Northern Ireland. I was employed as a pharmacist manager with the same company post pre-registration year. I spent a further four years as a community pharmacist.
I thoroughly enjoyed this role, especially being a pharmacist tutor. This very much sparked my interest in training others. I had always been curious about alternative pharmacist roles, but felt my knowledge of career paths was limited.
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.
QPs assure the quality of our medicines, so it’s important
they’re well trained and fully understand how pharmaceuticals are manufactured.
As a QP you’ll be legally responsible for certifying batches of medicinal products before they’re used in clinical trials or available on the market. You’ll also need to understand the factors that can affect the safety of medicines and supply chains.
Pharmacy has an important role to play regarding new and existing cancer treatments, we chat to Consultant Cancer Pharmacist and Chair of British Oncology Pharmacy Association, Steve Williamson MRPharmS (IPresc), MSc who explains his area of work in more detail.
What was your first contact with pharmacy as a profession?
When I was 16 I visited my local Hospital where my mum worked as an ITU nurse and met the clinical pharmacist who worked on her unit, after talking to him I decided that I wanted to be a hospital pharmacist. Read more Life as a consultant cancer pharmacist ›
Lieutenant Colonel Ellie Williams qualified as a Pharmacist over 25 years ago, and since then has used her MPharm in some extreme and exciting locations – here she takes us through her professional journey, guided by the skills she attained with her Pharmacy degree. Read more Adventures with an MPharm ›
Jill Holden, Lead Clinical Pharmacist, and Lindsay Parkin, Academic Practitioner,both at City Hospitals Sunderland, give us an oversight of what career progression in clinical pharmacy typically involves; what you can expect in terms of responsibility at each stage post-registration, and what opportunities are available within a clinical career.
Lucy Hedley, Senior Clinical Pharmacist HIV & Infectious Diseases at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, discusses her career in clinical pharmacy and her professional journey so far.
I guess I had several motivations for wanting to join the RPS Faculty. I liked the idea of gaining some recognition for being committed to my job, always trying to do things better and taking a real interest in my profession. I also thought it would be a useful process in terms of helping me identify my weak areas of practice, I’m a contractor as well as a patient facing pharmacist so I find it quite difficult to access peer review, I’ve always sort of made up my professional development as I’ve gone along! Read more My Faculty Journey ›
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