Blog by Ciara O’Brien, Medical Manager at Roche
There are many parallels that can be drawn between sectors of Pharmacy because as Pharmacy professionals, we all must adhere to the same standards of conduct. For me, this has meant seeking out and building on the core concepts in my day job – wherever that has been – to develop transferable skills that allow me to confidently bring the value of a pharmacist to any role. In particular, the quality, safety and regulation of medicines speaks to the Pharmacist role of medicines expert and the provision of optimised pharmaceutical based care with the patient at the centre.
I began my career with my GPhC registration from a community pre-reg and no idea what roles were available to me in the Pharmaceutical Industry but a desire to work there. I used job sites online and this lead to my first role at Roche as a Drug Safety Associate. I was able to demonstrate the core competencies and skills I had gained on the MPharm degree and from community practice in the interview. Having the pharmacy qualification meant I could transfer skills from clinical checks of prescriptions to medical review of adverse event cases.
Across many industries, career progression is moving towards a portfolio model rather than a traditional linear route. In the pharmaceutical industry there are many opportunities to network and gain experience in different roles. For my personal development, I used my network for my next role to cover a colleague’s maternity leave as the Deputy Local Quality Responsible. Getting the culture right here was key, ensuring the quality of processes through empowerment of people to move away from blame and learn from errors/near misses to do the right thing consistently.
Dedicating time to my professional development and keeping my GPhC registration active is important to me. Reflecting on this, my next career move led me to Medical Affairs and an Associate Medical Manager role, working on a medicine that was close to launch so getting experience in activities on disease awareness, HCP education and the processes required for getting a medicine onto the market in the UK. I really enjoyed being able to use my clinical skills here although there was a lot of new science to understand, getting to grips with clinical trials and how this could all be compliantly disseminated to Healthcare Professionals.
GPhC registered pharmacists can practice as ABPI Final Signatories, so I have started this journey and now work as a Medical Manager. I look after products coming to the end of their life cycle to make sure they continue to meet regulatory requirements and I provide support for the medical community. Here, there are many pharmacy skills that I use day-to-day such as:
- information gathering – ensuring I am using up-to-date and reputable sources,
- consultation skills – structuring my approach to conversations with internal and external stakeholders,
- leadership – where I have to lead a purpose-built team to deliver on an objective
In my various roles within the pharmaceutical Industry, I have been taught how to use the systems, read and understood the SOPs and have undertaken training on various role aspects to prepare for the job. But, what cannot be learned is the Pharmacy Professional mindset, transferable skills and professional registration.