Pharmacy and IT – How can you do both?

Wiqas VaWiqas Imagelji, Pharmacist Consultant for Cambio Healthcare Systems, takes us through his career moves, from community pharmacist to IT & Software consultant. His career spans nations and industries, and gives a great insight for those looking to move into the pharmaceutical industry.

My name is Wiqas Valji, I am a Pharmacist Consultant for Cambio Healthcare Systems. I graduated from UCL School of Pharmacy in 2007, qualified and did my Band 6 rotations at Barts Health NHS Trust. I decided to self study and completed my post-grad diploma with Robert Gordon University whilst locuming in hospitals during the weekdays and working in community pharmacy in the evenings and weekends to gain as much experience as I could.

I was always intrigued by pharmacists in industry, but never quite understood how they got there, so I did some research and found roles in pharma, clinical trials and technology. Technology always interested me so I began applying and distributing my CV to agencies who hired IT people. I eventually got a call for an interview at Cerner Corporation, one of the largest Health IT companies in the world (but relatively unknown to me).
They offered me a job as a Clinical Analyst and before I knew it I was on a plane to the USA for my training.
No two days have been the same since joining the IT industry, and given the relatively new nature of integrated electronic health records (to the UK) I’m often involved with first of type projects. The type of work actually depends on several factors, most commonly driven by client needs which is typically an NHS hospital.

Often you’re involved with a project to introduce new software, and you work closely with a project team and work towards defined milestones to achieve within the project. Different stages of the project require different activities and will include understanding client vision, mapping workflows, software demos, configuration, testing and training.

Working for foreign companies means I have been involved with lots of UK localisation of software, so I have been responsible for new software design, strategy and integration of other software to ‘talk’ to your own software. You learn how databases work, how to maximize system performance whilst giving users the best experience possible. I always find user interaction design very interesting, working with designers and modelling human behavior to make sure buttons and screens are designed in the most efficient way possible. You also have to read up on the latest national guidance on requirements and always consider the clinical safety of your software. In between projects and development I spend time at client sales events and industry exhibitions around the country.

Since joining the industry I have enjoyed being able to travel around the world for work, visiting USA, France, Spain, Sweden, and Sri Lanka.
Every day is a learning experience for me, and I try my best to stay on top of the latest clinical practice so that it influences my work in IT. I’m not sure what the future involves just as long as I keep learning!

Wiqas Valji
Pharmacist Consultant
Cambio Healthcare Systems, Sweden

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