Posted by: Anas Hassan30 JAN 2014
Nobody needs to be surprised at how passionate I feel about the current employment crisis within the pharmacy profession at the minute. But I thought I’d explore alternative careers for my latest blog post.
One of the most irritating assertions I hear is when someone wrongfully claims that a pharmacist only really has three places to go after qualification - community, hospital or industrial pharmacy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The pharmacy degree is a science degree. Achieving a Masters in Pharmacy is a major achievement. There are many skills and a valuable resource of knowledge that pharmacists have gained over their many years of study and training which can be put to excellent use in other areas of work. I’ve chosen five career areas/areas of work, but the list isn’t exhaustive and many of you will have other suggestions.
Many pharmacists go on to become lecturers in universities. Having experience of studying pharmacy, working within pharmacy or science or gaining real life work experience are major lifelines in delivering a strong quality of teaching and ensuring vital support to pharmacy students. It’s also very rewarding being able to share your experiences and knowledge with your audience in the lecture theatre. Pharmacists with strong public speaking skills will also find lecturing a great way to put their communication skills to good use. There are also many more opportunities beyond the lecture theatre particularly in helping out with research activities, supporting the provision of laboratory coursework sessions and maybe even representing your university at national events.
2. Financial Sector
One or two of you may raise a eyebrow, completely bemused at this second suggestion. But pharmacists have a lot of valuable analytical skills that many within the financial industry would find attractive. After all, it is numbers that they will mainly deal with. Cities like Edinburgh and London especially have the finanical sector as a prominent feature of their employment markets (but other cities across the UK will have banks and financial institutions present as well) and, despite everything that has happened since 2008, work to some extent is still available.
Although more emphasis over recent years has been placed on graduates with journalism qualifications, who is to stop a broadcaster, magazine or a newspaper from employing someone with expert knowledge? Healthcare is a major issue in the news and people from that background are a super resource for the media in terms of delivering news on that area. You may need to gain some sort of a journalism or media qualification to prove your worth but there are also other ways to gain skills and experience in journalism or the media, mainly through gaining valuable experience through other activies such as presenting on community or hospital radio or even just writing a blog online. Put it this way, if you have a natural flair for the media and are engaged with the issues then much of your worthiness in this field of work is there.
4. Regulatory Affairs
Pharmacists are being looked out for, more than ever before, by regulatory organisations. Those organisations, such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority, benefit from the experience and knowledge of pharmacists when it comes to dealing with ensuring the safety and efficacy of medicines and medicinal products. Law and ethics plus other modules, particularly around the manufacture of medicines studied in the pharmacy degree, provide an important foundation of knowledge for justfiying the value of pharmacists in this area of work.
5. Science or Medical Writing
A lot of people think that this final suggestion is very much the same, if not similar, to the third suggestion I made. But I disagree to an extent. No doubt a science writer may well get involved in the journalistic side of things. But, in this context, the focus is more on the other elements of medical writing. It will consist of intepreting and presenting data from research, writing literature such as patient information leaflets and other documentation (some activity within medical writing can be linked to regulatory affairs).
I have said it before and I will say it again. Pharmacists with one of the most sought after science degrees are highly valued invididuals within our society and economy. The eclectic range of skills and knowledge bring benefit to many other areas of work and in other jobs.
When it comes to the traditional and most common areas of work within pharmacy, budgets are being cut, job opportunities are continuously dropping and the amount of work available overall to pharmacists is declining. Maybe this is now the best time to think outside the box and utilise the pharmacy degree in a different way. Yet in a way that opens up new opportunities that some may not have expected to come across in their lifetimes and careers.