Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pharma: Sanofi-Aventis with a Global Perspective

Posted by Jeffrey Huang at Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fellowship or residency: this is the question I have been struggling with so far this P4 year. Both post-doc programs are motivating in different ways and both hit different areas of my academic curiosity. At the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, we are groomed for a clinical path. We have excellent professors who specialize in different areas of clinical pharmacy and we have experiential training that exposes us to many of these different areas. The curriculum is mostly patient-case based, and we have the opportunity to choose almost half of our P4 rotations in diverse inpatient settings.

These are tough odds for any student thinking about a different path, but here is my train of thought: I hope for a career in pharmacy that goes beyond the counters of a pharmacy and the walls of a hospital. International influences have just fallen into place for me so far in the pharmacy program, including International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR), International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) and the newly established Center for Global Health (CGH). And from speaking to different professors and faculty, the route to a pharmacy career that spans international borders is through the pharmaceutical industry.

In industry, the path for a pharmacist can span medical to commercial, research to advocacy. Today, I spoke with a director in the Pharmaco-economics and Reimbursement Department at Sanofi-Aventis. She was originally from the UK, had lived in France for the past four years, and has just recently moved back to the US. She loved the fact that she could move abroad in industry and integrate cultural differences and viewpoints within her work. I also had dinner with a Michigan alumna, now a second-year Rutgers Fellow. She described the various international sites and vendors she works with in her firm's global clinical operations department, and the opportunities she has to travel to these sites to help meet their needs. She’s expanded her reach beyond the US borders, and the opportunities that lay ahead for her are really exciting.

I remember my mother telling me the Chinese idiom 井底之蛙 (Frog in the Well) in sixth grade when she dropped the news that we were leaving Seattle to move to Taiwan. It is a story of a frog in a well whose only vision of the world is the circle of sky it sees from the bottom of the well. It is not until the frog finds the courage to climb out of the well that he realizes how vast the world is, and how much there is to discover outside of his small circle of comfort.

My advice to my classmates, other students at the College, and prospective PharmD students is to explore things outside of your comfort zone and keep your options open. Throw yourself into the unfamiliar and the unknown. I guarantee you will discover things about yourself that you would never have otherwise known. There are so many options for pharmacists beyond institutional and community settings, and even in these settings you can create a unique niche that fits your own aspirations and motivations.

I am quite certain now as I finish my last few days at Sanofi-Aventis that I will be pursuing a path in the pharmaceutical industry through the Rutgers Fellowship. I can easily see myself living abroad and practicing pharmacy on a global scale, and I hope my experience with ISPOR, IPSF, and the CGH will help create opportunities to explore this area.

1 comment:

Seina said...

What have you decided to do?