A degree in pharmacy opens many doors and exciting career trajectories. When I began my career in independent community pharmacy back in the 1970s, I had no idea that within a decade I would obtain a PhD and multiple opportunities in cellular and molecular pharmacology research. I was able to return to graduate school and supplement my income with part-time pharmacy jobs as well as a teaching assistantship. Following graduate school and a rewarding postdoctoral research position at the National Cancer Institute, my background as a pharmacist-scientist offered many job opportunities. Pharmacist-scientists are especially valued in the biopharmaceutical industry, where prior clinical pharmacy experience allows them to apply their broad knowledge of available pharmacotherapeutics to identify the key unmet clinical targets that are the starting points for modern drug development.
The environment for pharmacist-scientists has evolved significantly in the past decade, as drug development costs, regulatory demands, and health economic issues have challenged the pharmaceutical industry. Expanded education and policy engagement increasingly led by nonpartisan academic centers is needed. Accordingly, there are new opportunities for industrial pharmacist-scientists to return to academia, and for the "industry?academia equilibrium" to be better balanced. Overall, I think the future remains bright but evolving for pharmacists who choose to work in industry. Advanced training, in the sciences or other disciplines, allows for opportunities that could span both industrial and academic pharmacy. My advice to any young pharmacist is: explore your options—so many exist, and our dynamic health care industry needs them all.