Experiences developing a pharmacology on-line careers portal: evaluating impact on student career awareness

[Speaker] Barbara K Kemp-Harper:1
[Co-author] Emma Harris:1, Elizabeth A Davis:1
1:Department of Pharmacology, Monash University, Australia

Background. Students undertaking courses without a defined vocational outcome (e.g. B.Sc, B.Biomed.Sci) are not always aware of potential career pathways, which can affect their motivation and engagement. Indeed a lack of knowledge of career pathways may contribute to the passive approach some students adopt in their final year of study. The current study aimed to heighten the career awareness of pharmacology students, and strengthen industry links, via the development, implementation and evaluation of a careers portal focused on the pharmaceutical industry.
Methods. A Monash University Pharmacology Alumni LinkedIn group was established, and graduates were invited to join the group and participate in an on-line survey or video interview, focused on the nature of their job, their career journey and skills required to undertake their role. An on-line careers portal was established outlining careers in the pharmaceutical industry, with links to profiles (n=22) and video interviews (n=11) of Monash graduates. Undergraduate students (n=58) enrolled in a third year pharmacology unit in semester 2, 2017, were invited to complete anonymous surveys pre- and post-implementation of the careers portal. Surveys were designed to assess students' knowledge and understanding of job opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry.
Results. Monash graduates indicated that communication skills, attention to detail and teamwork, were important attributes in their roles in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to access to the careers portal, students identified research (89%), sales (77%) and marketing (45%) as roles within the pharmaceutical industry of which they were aware. In addition, the majority of students (51%) indicated that they would use Google and/or speak to academic staff (40%) to obtain further information relating to career prospects. Post-access to the careers portal, students identified additional roles within the pharmaceutical industry including medical affairs (56%), pharmacovigilance (32%) and medical information (28%) and 48% indicated they would utilise the portal as a resource. Feedback on the portal from graduate participants has been positive with a number of alumni now engaged in teaching activities within the pharmacology curriculum.
Conclusion. The implementation of a careers portal has increased awareness of career pathways available to pharmacology students and provided increased opportunities for industry engagement.

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