HOPA 2018 | Advice for pharmacists beginning a career in clinical research

Judith Smith

In this video, Judith Smith, PharmD, BCOP, CPHQ, FCCP, FISOPP, of UTHealth McGovern Medical School, Houston, TX, delivers advice to pharmacists who wish to begin a career in clinical research. Speaking from the 2018 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Annual Conference, held in Denver, CO, Dr Smith stresses the importance of having a passion for undertaking research to overcome the challenges faced when going down this career path.

Transcript (edited for clarity):

There’s a lot of tools out there. Funding is a big one that HOPA has focused on, I know that they’re about to announce a quite a few new initiatives for funding early career programs, is what we just heard about during the session today, is one of the first things but they were mentioning there’s others coming that they’re going to be announcing and sharing with us at this meeting.
Outside of HOPA, there’s also other resources, online training that’s available. It’s one thing I really emphasized in the presentation today is, if you don’t have the qualifications, is to go seek the qualifications to do the research, and whether that’s becoming certified as a healthcare quality practitioner or getting additional training in statistics, or maybe going to a program, like the American College of clinical pharmacy offers two research training programs that fit in the merit program, which you know you know we’re hoping to collaborate with HOPA and helping bring that to members as well. I think it’s really important to find that mentor and coming to the HOPA meeting is definitely a good way, or go into professional meetings, whether it be HOPA or other professional pharmacy meetings, and having that face-to-face contact, is really important.
But most of the organizations all have mentorship connections now I know, I’m mentor to three or four students across the country. I’ve never met them in person but I you know talk to them at least once or twice a month and helping to get their career started in research as well. So it’s seeking that mentor that may have your interest, or you may have the research skills that you need.
What we talked about today is some kind of basic P’s and Q’s for deciding a research career, a lot of those P’s and Q’s aren’t the ones that we learn in kindergarten, but rather having patience, having practice or training, to learn the research skills that you need, but mostly and the most important to I think, are persistence and passion. Finding that question and not giving up until you figure out how to answer it, whether it’s finding the resources or reviewing the literature, making sure you’re approaching the question correctly, but really having that passion is a key thing for starting your research. No one can tell you to do research, it’s not something that is box you can check off on your career plan, but it has to be something you really want to do because it’s hard and I think that you know there’s no benefit in telling people, everybody can do research, because not everybody has the drive or the passion or the interest.
So, if it’s not something you want to do, you still can help support research by coming to meetings, learning about what other researchers are doing, and bringing that back to your practice and sharing research results. So all of us in the pharmacy community can help promote pharmacy research by sharing what other pharmacy researchers are doing, going to the poster sessions, bringing that back to our clinical teams and saying, ‘hey, look I just saw this research project’, so, your role and research may not be the one doing it but all of us can participate in communicating and sharing and implementing it into practice.

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