Sierra Hill's path to pharmacy has been unconventional. After receiving her bachelor's degree in Molecular Cellular & Development Biology (MCDB) from CU Boulder, she went to the U.K. where she worked for the Royal College of Radiologists in England and then the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. "I wanted to be a citizen of the world. And, ultimately, my global work experience helped to mold my career path," says Hill. Her undergraduate degree provided her with a strong scientific foundation, but she knew she wanted to do more and a degree in pharmacy would provide her with experience on the patient and clinical side. "I thought pharmacy was an interesting career path with a vast number of opportunities," says Hill. So, she applied to, and was accepted into, the program.
She worked in clinical trial management prior to school, and was a student trainee at the FDA, and an inpatient clinical pharmacy intern at University of Colorado Hospital while at pharmacy school. These experiences gave Hill an entirely different perspective when pursuing her PharmD and determining her future career path. "I was seeking a position where I could use my clinical training as a PharmD and the unique international and domestic work experiences to bring a dual perspective to enhance patient outcomes on a national scale.”
During pharmacy school she began researching more roles for those with a PharmD and was fascinated by the business side of pharmacy. “I networked with pharmacists working in industry and I was intrigued to learn about different roles pharmacists hold,” says Hill. New roles and positions have been created within the industry recently, which bridge the gap between research and marketing. Roles tailor-made for pharmacists that merge the scientific knowledge and background with communications skills that are integral to the PharmD program can be found within the pharmaceutical industry. Positions include medical affairs, medical science liaison, regulatory affairs and clinical operations.
According to Hill, this growing field is perfect for her. "I did a lot of research to find the position and company that was right for me," says Hill. The position she located is through a fellowship program through Rutgers University in medical affairs at Genentech. “In my role as a fellow in medical affairs, I will provide scientific support for a drug in late-stage clinical development.” Pharmacists in medical affairs can be involved in medical education and communication, clinical trials, strategic planning and health outcomes, and outcomes-research activities. The training and mentorship that Hill will receive through the post-doctorate fellowship will prepare her to join a multi-disciplinary team as a medication information expert at the end of the one-year program.
As a student, she's already been making an impact on her future team and has been recognized for a slide deck she created to provide education on the different expedited drug review programs. "It's exciting to already be making contributions to the team before I've even started."
Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program (RPIF)
More than 30 years ago, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and a pharmaceutical company began a collaborative pilot program to evaluate the potential contributions of clinically-trained pharmacists within a pharmaceutical industry practice setting. Following the successful pilot, the RPIF Program expanded to include 18 companies within the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries and over 150 fellows annually. The program has helped drive the demand for the growing number of employment opportunities for clinical pharmacists in industry. the program has Fellowships both on the east and west coasts and offers training in most drug development and commercialization areas.