Explore your options, and carve a path

Two years ago, Chia Hui Chung graduated with a PharmD degree from U of T’s Faculty of Pharmacy. Today, she’s in Vancouver working as a medical science liaison for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s leading global healthcare companies. She says a key step to landing this first role was participating in the Faculty of Pharmacy’s Industrial Pharmacy Residency Program (IPRP).

“The residency program was not only an opportunity to get experience but also to branch out and try new things,” she says. “Having that year to explore helped me carve a path in this clinical space.”

The IPRP is a one-year, educational residency program where students are selected through a competitive application process, for a specific type of residency hosted by partner pharmaceutical companies. During the year, they will gain industrial experience and complete a major project connected to the company’s objectives and the interests of the resident.   

While the majority of practicing pharmacists currently work in a community setting, there are plenty of other avenues for rewarding careers. “We want to create opportunities for upcoming pharmacists in various sectors and the industrial residency program is a wonderful way to get your foot in the door and be mentored,” said Andrea Cameron, associate professor - teaching stream, and coordinator of the IPRP. “Each resident is guided by a supervising mentor from the company, and connected with a faculty member liaison for the year, to provide a well-rounded, supported experience,” she said. 

For her major project, Chia Hui focused on market research. She led a cross-Ontario survey investigating how pharmacists feel about the recent expanded scope of practice and what kind of educational support they might be looking for. “We had over 300 responses which was fantastic, and this research helped inform GSK thinking around how to best support pharmacists.”   

This was GSK’s first time participating in the residency program “and it was absolutely delightful to partner with the Faculty and mentor a recent graduate,” said Lisa Yee, manager, medical information response at GSK. “Gaining exposure to a company like GSK is a way for new pharmacists to see what career opportunities exist beyond the more traditional routes and to build an understanding of collaborative teamwork in a dynamic and diverse environment.” Lisa is also a graduate from U of T’s Faculty of Pharmacy and she was keen to reconnect and work with students.

At the close of her 2016-17 residency, Chia Hui received the Faculty's Residency Award in recognition of the quality of her major project, demonstrated leadership, and initiative shown during the residency.  “I was very pleased to accept the award and grateful for the support I had from both my research and industry mentors,” said Chia Hui.

“The award was very well deserved,” said Lisa. “Chia Hui was able to generate a unique idea and deliver a true research project that was completely in tune with our business needs.”

Learn more about the Industrial Pharmacy Residency Program