Changing career

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Changing career

Postby MOON » Thu Oct 21, 2004 3:55 pm

Hi I am 32 years old and currently working as a pharmacist. I worked for retail for 8 years and now thinking about going back to school to get phD in pharmaceutics or pharmacology. I did research when I was a pharmacy student for 3 years and enjoyed it. I understand that there will be many sacrifies including financial apects, but what I worry about the most is that I wouldn't be happy with my decisions. So if there are some down sides(I am sure there are many)to persue phD and jobs in industrial or government, I would appreciate any input. In contrast if there are sucessful career changes, then I would appreciated advise from them too.

Changing career

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:58 am


I was hoping that there would be someone to pop in here who could pass on some advice specific to pharmacy. I can tell you that as a recruiter I found that companies in two fields would usually be looking for pharmacists in industry . . . The clinical trials industry, and the pharmaceutical companies. Yes, to do advanced research in a pharma company you would need the PhD in pharmacology. In a clinical trials company, you would not.

However, as you suggest, the road to a PhD is a long one, and a very personal and important decision. The downside is the long time it takes, and the years it takes to recover financially for the time taken. My guess is that the payback on your time/expenses would take ten years. There are jobs available to PhD pharmacologists, both with the pharma industry and with some percentage of the biotech companies who are working on small molecule drug candidates.

That personal decision you need to make would best be made after some period of networking, asking people who are already in those jobs what they like/dislike about them, and whether or not they truly needed the PhD to become employed. I am sure that there is a fair degree of demand for the MS as well.

regards, Dave Jensen
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Changing career

Postby Bill L. & Naledi S. » Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:26 pm

I totally agree with Dave's comments -- you really have to WANT the PhD and be committed for the long haul in order to make it to the finish line in the whole PhD process, and you should do some networking to learn the most about career options with this combination background.

I was going to add one potential career field idea though...I can think of one "PharmD + PhD" person who was very successful within the FDA/regulatory fields for their advanced knowledge of toxicology issues. If you do pursue a PhD it might be best to try to make your PhD and PharmD backgrounds dovetail in this manner.

Best wishes --
Bill L. and Naledi S.
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Changing career

Postby John J » Wed Oct 27, 2004 8:29 pm

Hi Moon

In sharing my experience with a career transition, similar to the one you are proposing, I hope that you will gain some insight as to what is truly valued in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.

I had a traditional science career with a research based PhD and then 4 years of post-doctoral research in my home country and the USA. I was looking to change career to a more rewarding profession (financially and vocationally) and took a job as a medical affairs associate with a top 5 pharmaceutical company. This job had many science (BSc and PhD) and pharmacy qualified people in the role along with some nursing and other allied health professionals. The job involved being the technical expert on the drug(s) that you looked after and providing input into sales, marketing, regulatory affairs, clinical research and other dept's outputs and functions. On a day to day basis this involved developing slidekits (for Drs and sales people), devleoping and approving marketing materials, writing clinical paper reviews, input into phase 4 clinical studies, running advisory boards with key Drs etc. The role was a good grounding to learn about the pharma industry. In my 5 years in the pharma industry I have moved countries twice and worked for 3 companies (all top 10) and am currently a medical manager. I haven't used many of the techniques I learnt during my research days, with the exception of being able to think independantly, work in multi-functional teams, stand up and present data to an audience (non of which are taught in the science curriculum). My advice to you, is not to go back and get another piece of paper unless it is a requirement to register as a practitioner in your chosen vocation. Instead spend time developing your abilities to communicate effectively, negotiate with and influence people and think outside of the box and then you wil be successful in any career path you so choose.

I have worked with MDs, PhDs, PharmDs, MBAs etc etc and the most successful ones are the ones who are effective at acheiving results, irrespective of their degree. Just look at the varied qualifications of the company CEOs and you will find that most of the people reporting to them are better qualified.

good luck and all the best

John J
John J

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