Category: Fellows Posters
Purpose: Career opportunities available to doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) graduates are increasingly diverse, expanding beyond traditional pharmacy roles to include non-traditional career paths, such as careers in the pharmaceutical industry. PharmD students are subject to various experiences during the pharmacy curriculum, in addition to influencing internal and external motivators. Assessing student perspectives provides insight into the experiences and resources pharmacy schools can offer students interested in the pharmaceutical industry. This research seeks to identify the appealing aspects of pharmaceutical industry careers and identify key opportunities and mentors considered most impactful to students interested in pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry
Methods: A voluntary, anonymized, online Qualtrics survey was administered to students enrolled in ACPE accredited professional pharmacy programs. Surveys were sent to faculty and staff of these schools in late 2018 to distribute to all students in the next four graduating PharmD classes (graduation years 2019-2022). The survey consists of a series of Likert scale, ranking, multiple choice, and free-response questions. Students’ top two preferences for post-graduation career opportunities were identified for the entire cohort. A subgroup was created for those who selected pharmaceutical industry as one of their top two preferences, and the data from these respondents were further evaluated. Likert scale questions asked respondents to rank each item against the other on a numeric scale. Selection of choice 1 marks that item as the “most influential” or “most appealing” characteristic of the list. In the case where multiple items were equally ranked as the respondents’ top choice, an aggregate for choice 1 and choice 2 was reported as the “highest ranked” items.
Results: Six-hundred fifty-nine participants from 30 schools completed the survey. Of the 659 survey completers, 99 students (15%) selected pharmaceutical industry as one of their top two career preferences. Among these students, the aspects of pursuing this career path that were most appealing included impacting the health and wellness of patients globally (29 students, 30%), the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary team (21 students, 21%), and the opportunity to learn about and contribute to drug development (19 students, 19%). The highest ranked professional experiences considered most influential to selecting pharmaceutical industry as a top career choice included participation in a club or extracurricular activity (43 students, 43%) and attending a conference or professional meeting (38 students, 38%). Students were most influenced to favor a career in the pharmaceutical industry through non-faculty mentorship/career guidance from a professional working in this field (49 students, 51%) and peers/classmates with experience in this field (27 students, 28%).
Conclusion: Characterizing the appealing aspects of a career in the pharmaceutical industry identifies aspects that students may not find in other career paths. Results revealed the importance of providing the opportunity to engage directly with individuals with industry experience. Thus, it is important for universities to facilitate opportunities to engage with peers and mentors in the industry, to provide exposure to inform students’ career decisions. Professional organizations provide this to students, highlighting the importance of supporting these groups. This exposure is particularly important for fields where direct experience is not guaranteed by the traditional pharmacy curriculum (e.g. hospital and community practice).