Two pharmacy students share their unique summer internship experiences and the value of gaining real-world experience in the field of medical affairs.
Since the beginning of pharmacy school, we knew we wanted to work in a setting that would allow us to impact patient lives and health care on a global scale. Over the last two years, we connected with many professionals currently working in the industry who shared their experiences and helped us realize that we can combine our clinical knowledge with a business acumen which made us ultimately want to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry. When we first started to apply to pharmaceutical internships, it was like shooting darts in the dark. Knowing how difficult it was to obtain an internship, we attempted to present our best selves in every application. Combined, we applied to over 100 positions across the United States and faced many rejections before receiving one email to request an interview. After what seemed like a lifetime, we were able to obtain internships at Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Janssen Pharmaceuticals in New Jersey. Although our road to the industry hasn’t been straightforward, like our car breaking down in Pennsylvania on our 12-hour drive from Chicago to New Jersey, we were able to embark on a summer adventure that would directly impact our professional growth and development.
Being a summer intern taught us the value of networking, collaboration, and the importance of cross-functionality within medical affairs. It was inspirational to be surrounded by innovation and cutting-edge science, where the ultimate goal of any team is to impact patient outcomes. Most importantly, we were able to develop invaluable relationships with our associated team members that will carry on into our future career paths. Besides the invaluable skills and experiences gained, we were able to explore the east coast for the first time through multiple road trips to Boston, New York, the Jersey Shore, Washington D.C, and Philadelphia. This summer was truly unforgettable on both a personal and professional level and helped us establish where our long-term goals lie within medical affairs. This isn’t the last time the east coast has seen of us.
“This summer, I sought to supplement my previous market access internship with health economic research experience and joined Janssen Pharmaceuticals as a real-world value and evidence intern assisting the Cardiovascular & Metabolic brands. I was able to contribute to feasibility measures for new real-world studies via literature searches and helped draft a study concept that will be finalized and used retroactively by field managed care teams. This experience gave me a background in strategizing, managing, and budgeting for real-world studies that align and support the brands market and communication needs. I was fortunate enough to work under an incredible manager, Mike Durkin, who gave me the attention I needed to complete numerous projects while at Janssen. His lessons will carry over into my career in the industry and have fostered even more ambition in my future endeavors. After this summer, I have solidified that I would like to pursue a career in Health Economic Outcomes Research to improve patients access to medications.“ – Alec Thompson, University of Illinois College of Pharmacy Class of 2021
While Alec was able to learn and gain valuable experiences in the field of Health Economic Outcomes Research (HEOR), Nicole was able to obtain a different opportunity that was focused on field medical capabilities.
“To increase my knowledge of Medical Affairs and its role within companies, I joined the Novartis MSL Field Medical Capabilities team where I got to impact how Medical Science liaisons operate on a daily basis. I learned the various tools and resources MSL’s utilize in the field, and I was able to use my creativity and education in aiding in the creation, editing, and harmonization of field educational materials for designated therapeutic areas. Many companies do not have the adequate time or internal resources to fully onboard new MSLs, and through my work this summer I was able to design and implement a new onboarding program to positively impact MSLs’ ability to apply their knowledge in ways that will drive value for both the customer and the company. But, more importantly, the greatest part of my internship was becoming a member of a professional family that supports and cares about your well-being outside of the company walls. Being part of the field medical team, I worked closely with 10 amazing individuals that taught me something new and exciting every day. I am grateful to be surrounded and mentored by smart, talented, and hardworking people who guided me through multiple franchises. I am thankful for my manager and mentor, Arthur Chan, for bringing me on board and providing me a platform to make an impact on the field medical team. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, and I am excited for the opportunity to be able to stay on remotely as I start my third year at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy, and continue to contribute to the great work we do!”
– Nicole Fuchs, University of Illinois College of Pharmacy Class of 2021
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