Residency Student Timothy Yu

Residency develops key skills needed for career in pharmaceutical industry

Timothy Yu, a graduate from University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, has received the Faculty’s 2021 Industrial Pharmacy Residency Program Award recognizing his leadership, initiative and high-quality research project.

In a residency that changed drastically midway due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yu made the most of the postgraduate learning experience.

“This award provides me with greater confidence in my capabilities. The residency is very competitive, and this award reminds that I can take on challenges that I may not have a lot of experience in and end up doing well,” says Yu.

Yu became interested in the Industrial Pharmacy Residency Program after completing a rotation in non-direct patient care at Purdue Pharma Canada, where he took part in work for a new product launch.

“I enjoyed working with people with different backgrounds and skill sets on projects and contributing to patient health and needs on a systemic level,” he says. “This sparked my interest in pursuing a career in industry.”

After the rotation, Yu was accepted to the Industrial Pharmacy Residency Program, a highly sought, one-year residency that develops skills and provides experience in specific specialty areas of the pharmaceutical industry.

He started his residency at Purdue in August 2019 in the medical information and pharmacovigilance department, where he took part in day-to-day activities, including answering client inquiries, conducting literature reviews and reporting adverse drug events to Health Canada.

Yu enjoyed the experience, particularly the opportunity to work with a collaborative team.

“As a resident, recent graduate and new teammate, I had a lot of questions and required a lot of support and encouragement,” he says. “I felt that my teammates were willing to provide that to me and helped me do my best work.”

Yu says that he started the residency feeling somewhat timid and unsure about speaking up in work situations. But the supportive work environment helped him to develop his confidence.

Transitioning to working from home during the pandemic was a challenge, Yu says, as he missed the collaborative environment and the informal mentorship and advice that came from seeing his more experienced colleagues in person.

But over time, he says, technological barriers became less of an issue, and he was still able to have a valuable learning experience.

Timothy Yu holding award
Timothy Yu holding his Industrial Pharmacy Residency Program Award

Research project generates knowledge about pharmacists and natural health products

During the industrial residency, residents must complete a research project outside their day-to-day responsibilities. Yu surveyed Ontario community pharmacists about their perception of their training, knowledge and resources available for natural health products used to treat or prevent the common cold.

Yu led all aspects of the study, from designing and distributing the survey to analyzing the results. While the project is still a work in progress, he found that most pharmacists were satisfied with the available resources at work in helping answer clinical inquiries regarding these natural health products, but would benefit from more training.

“This project was the first time I had done anything related to conducting research,” he said.

“I learned important research skills as well as transferable skills like time management and organization, so it was a very enriching experience.”

These skills, along with the valuable network of colleagues who have become mentors, have set him up for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Yu now works at Purdue Pharma Canada as a drug safety officer in the pharmacovigilance department.

“The residency is a great program and opportunity to hone and learn skills and gain confidence for a role in industry, and I would encourage anyone who is interested to apply,” he says. “Ask for help or guidance when you want to learn a new skill or gain experience, and don’t be afraid to try new things or give your opinion because it’s all part of the learning experience.”

By: Eileen Hoftyzer

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