Seizing New Opportunities in the Pharmacy Industry, Part 2
Will Soliman, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) discusses the exciting opportunities available to pharmacists in the pharma industry, in the second part of an interview with The Nontraditional Pharmacist.
Will Soliman, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) provides advice for pursuing new pharmacy careers, in the second part of an interview with The Nontraditional Pharmacist (NP).
What advice do you have for students looking to pursue avenues in Pharma, or pharmacists looking to make a transition?
Will: I would say step 1 really is to get certified. Because think about it—when you go into an interview, and people start to ask you questions at [ASHP] Midyear and you’re trying for these fellowships in industry, I’ve heard from many, many people that have said, “You know, because I have been certified, I was able to answer a lot of questions and I was able to discuss in detail what my thinking was, and they were able to see that I had a lot of in-depth knowledge.” So getting more education and training, because it’s so specific, it will give you a huge return on your investment. It is totally worth it and I’m very confident you’ll see a lot of benefit.
One of the pieces of advice I give to any individual who’s trying to build a career in this area is really become an expert in a certain therapeutic area or in a certain area in general and really try to be known in that area. And part of that then, the third aspect of that is networking and really building a strong network. And nowadays with LinkedIn, it’s pretty easy, and you’ll be able to connect with folks and really reach out, and build networks where you can go to live events and things like that. And that’s actually what we do at the ACMA is when you actually get board certified or certified, it’s not like you’re just certified and it’s done. Anyone that is board certified in medical affairs for the ACMA automatically becomes part of the ACMA society. And when you are part of the ACMA society, you get to go to live events, attend webinars etc. We did that because we know how important it is to really have a network and have a community, and being part of a community of professionals that you want to work in that space with, that’s so important, right. Because a lot of times the reality is, you know, having those connections matters. Sometimes it is whom you know, and so that makes a big difference. And so I would absolutely encourage people to become part of that network, attend those events, be part of those societies, because you’re going to inevitably meet individuals that can help you.
So it’s just small things and little ideas, but I would recommend it. The biggest thing I would say is your resume—really have a solid resume. I’m sure there is services either at university, or you can hire folks, that can really help you to develop a professional looking resume. And the resumé, you need to figure out how to make it stand out. There’s different ways to do that, but that’s critical. And then really educating yourself on interviewing skills, and how do you boost up your soft skills so that when you’re out speaking with folks in an interview, you’re really able to convey why you’re the best candidate for a position. So I think it’s a combination of those different things.
NP: Yeah, you said some of those are small things, but also so important. We talk about networking, and a lot of people throw that term around, but really making those connections with individuals that are in a position to either provide that experience, additional education, or simply help out, help you through the process is important. How does someone go to become involved with the ACMA?
Will: It’s real simple. You go to our website, www.medicalaffairsspecialist.org or you could just Google “ACMA Medical Affairs” and can go on our website, register, and you can schedule time to speak with one of the academic advisors that the ACMA has. They would be happy to help you learn a little bit more about the opportunity, but you can actually apply directly online. You can speak with other individuals that have gotten board certified. If you go on LinkedIn, you’ll see there are plenty of folks that actually have the credential, the BCMAS credentials, hundreds and hundreds of them that actually use it on their LinkedIn profile. So I always encourage folks to reach out to those that have actually went through the process and hear it firsthand from them. But it’s simple, it’s all online. One of things that we really try to do is make the process as simple as possible. So ACMA has a 24 hour, 7 days a week live chat support. So you can go online, and know ask any of our team members about questions related to the process, the exams, etc. They’ll be more than happy to answer. And of course, like I mentioned, we have telephone support as well, and members that can answer questions live.