T-16: The Non-Traditional Role: Pharmacists in Medical Information
Drug Information Specialist; Clinical Assistant Professor, Drug Information
University of Kansas School of Pharmacy United States
The objective of this study was to obtain educational background and skills of pharmacists working in the non-traditional role of a medical information specialist (MIS) in the pharmaceutical industry.
ORAL PRESENTATION: 1:10PM
An electronic survey was sent to pharmacists in medical information departments and collected information on educational background, prior job experience and skills required for the MIS role. The survey also asked for suggestions on how pharmacy schools can prepare students for this role.
The survey was sent to approximately 40 medical information departments from September to December 2017. There were a total of 33 responders. The majority of the responders were female (n=25) and within the age range of 26-35 years (n=22). Approximately half of the responders (n=17) did not undergo a post graduate training while the other pharmacists completed an industry fellowship, drug information residency or hospital residency. Thirty responders had less than six years of experience as a pharmacist prior to starting in medical information with 21 pharmacists previously working in a community or hospital setting.
The pharmacist’s role in medical information include answering medical information questions, collecting adverse events and product complaints, project management, training new hires and writing standard documents. The following skills were rated as extremely or very important to the role as a medical information specialist: communication skills, medical writing, critical thinking, literature evaluation, understanding the structure of industry, good time management, and efficiently looking up drug information. Only four pharmacists responded that their pharmacy school education definitely prepared them for role in medical information.
The pharmacists also provided suggestions on how pharmacy school curriculum can prepare students for a career in this setting by focusing more on drug information skills including literature evaluation, teaching the structure of the pharmaceutical industry (FDA regulations), acknowledging then exposing students to job opportunities for pharmacists in this setting, and providing chances to improve intrapersonal skills such as emotional intelligence and critical thinking.
Based on the results of the survey, a role in medical information for pharmacists would require strong drug information, communication, and medical writing skills. More exposure to the structure and functions of the pharmaceutical industry would also be beneficial. To prepare pharmacy students for roles in medical information, the curriculum may include a required drug information rotation, raising more awareness of career opportunities in this setting through speakers or internships, and projects that require medical writing and presentations.
Although, the responders’ rate was low, the information provided by the pharmacists can provide valuable insight into skills and background needed for a position in medical information for students interested in this path. Moreover, with the role of pharmacists expanding in all settings, pharmacy schools can help to better prepare students for career opportunities in non-traditional jobs. The emphasis on knowledge in drug information was clearly shown in this study despite the role being in a non-clinical setting. The literature currently has limited information on the roles of pharmacists in medical information and how pharmacy students can prepare for these roles. This study can provide some insight in this area and facilitate other similar research in the future.