School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Dr. Muhammad Usama Arabi – PharmD UofT

Medical Affairs Intern at Pfizer Canada

Why Queen’s University? What drew you to the PHMI program?

During my final year of clinical rotations, I started looking at pharmaceutical industry as a possible career route. What became really clear to me from the beginning was that it was very difficult to break into the industry without prior work experience. So, when I saw the PHMI program and the features it offered, I immediately jumped at the opportunity 

What were you doing when you entered the program and why did you choose to apply when you did?

I was just about to graduate from the Doctor of Pharmacy program, and I was working at a hospital. I quickly realized that hospital pharmacy was not for me. I knew I could pursue retail pharmacy but on a part time basis and I saw industry as one of the few options that would challenge me, so I decided to apply and carve out a path for myself.

What has been your favourite experience so far? Perhaps an “ah-ha” moment?

There was this perspective in pharmacy school that big pharmaceutical companies are all about profit. On my first day at Pfizer, when I saw all they were doing to help patients with serious rare diseases and the amount of goodwill that existed within the team, I immediately realized how biased of an opinion I had been provided when I was on the other side of healthcare. I entered the healthcare profession to help people and I was hesitant to fully dive into industry because I felt that I may lose my sense of caring for patients. However, that really has not been the case and I am excited for what the future holds. I am still caring for patients but from a broader perspective. 

If someone was considering taking the PHMI program, what advice would you give them? 

First of all, be sure about industry. I met with a lot of professionals currently working in the pharma industry and spoke with them about their work, their take on things and concerns that I had. This really helped me cement my decision to exit direct patient care and join the industry. Secondly, research different roles or job postings on employment websites like LinkedIn and gain an idea of what those companies are looking for in terms of soft skills and see if they are compatible with your skill set. Fill in the blanks where you can, but more importantly it will help you decide if starting down the pharma industry road via PHMI program is right for you. Finally, visit the PHMI program website and do your research on the program as it is a commitment that you need to make to the faculty, yourself and the company where you will do your internship. If you have any questions reach out to the faculty using the channels provided.