My name is Leena Ahmad, I studied Pharmacy at the University of Bradford and did my pre-registration in a community pharmacy in South Wales. I faced many challenges during my pre-registration year and I decided to look into non-traditional roles within the pharmaceutical industry. I came to realise that you can become more than just a pharmacist with the degree as the degree provides many transferable skills as well as crucial pharmacology knowledge that is useful in other sectors. Some of the roles I found included: drug safety officer (pharmacovigilance), regulatory affairs associate, clinical trials assistant, medical sales representative and scientific writer. The pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive as you find yourself competing with graduates from other scientific pathways. After months of applying, I was offered a job as a drug safety associate.
My role focused on the detection, evaluation, knowing and prevention of adverse events of drugs. I started off by case processing which involved data entry of cases, making sure that the drug identifiers are captured correctly and that the event is reported in as much detail as possible so that the medical advisors can decide what the actual cause of the adverse event was. Using my university knowledge, I understood the impact of good reporting for both patients, healthcare professionals and the manufacturers so that they would be able to include this in their signal detection reports. As I became more confident in case processing, I moved onto narrative report writing and medical coding using MedDRA. MedDRA allowed me to explore different terminologies for the same medical term and provided me with excellent upskilling for use in writing medical reports. My role also involved communicating with healthcare professionals and members of the public about our drugs. I was able to combine my pharmacology and research skills to provide answers to different target audiences. This role was alongside my role as a drug safety associate – I learnt about the importance of prioritising tasks to meet deadlines. I realised the importance of clear communication and patience when undertaking new and challenging tasks which will enhance my skills for upcoming roles in the future.
I hope that by sharing my story I can show other students that it is possible to work outside of a traditional pharmacy and that industry pharmacy provides many unique opportunities. It is a big
decision to make after completing your MPharm degree but you have to remember that you are the expert of medicines and that this knowledge is valuable to pharmaceutical companies. I hope this has been helpful and if there are any queries or questions you may have, I will try my best to help!
Author: Lena Ahmed