Jorge Farias (PharmD ’13, MS ’16) describes how his dual degrees — PharmD and MS in Healthcare Decision Analysis (HCDA) — prepared him for his current role as director, medical outcomes specialist at Pfizer.
In a few sentences, please describe your career trajectory. What are you most proud of in your career so far?
After graduating from the PharmD program in 2013, I landed a role as a senior pharmacy account specialist for Sanofi. There, I was involved in educating community pharmacists on new products and engaging retail chains on programs that aimed at improving medication adherence and patient outcomes. A few years later, our entire team was dissolved. I switched gears and began working for a biopharmaceutical health economics and market access consulting company. A year later, I had an opportunity to move back to working at a pharmaceutical company in my current role as a director, medical outcomes specialist with Pfizer. I am most proud of getting to a position of this level with a pharmaceutical company that I highly admire. Every day, I think about how the work I am involved in is improving the quality of care being delivered to patients and for that I am also very proud.
What attracted you to the field of pharmacy? Any particular moment(s) that made you stop and think, “This is the path I want to take?”
Growing up I was very much influenced by the health care professionals in my family. One of my biggest inspirations was my grandfather, a general surgeon, and one of the most caring people I have ever known. He introduced me to the field of medicine, but in college, I grew increasingly interested in the field of pharmacy. I became fascinated by the power of prescription medications and their ability to improve health and in some cases, cure diseases.
Why did you decide to pursue the MS in Healthcare Decision Analysis in addition to the PharmD degree?
My role at Sanofi was a great introduction to the pharmaceutical industry as I learned about many different career opportunities for pharmacists. After my first year at Sanofi, I saw the growing importance of demonstrating the value of medications in today’s marketplace, so I began to explore careers in health economics and market access. I chose to pursue USC’s Healthcare Decision Analysis program because I knew the curriculum would provide me with a better understanding of today’s health care landscape by focusing on topics such as health economics, pricing, reimbursement, managed care, and health policy.
How did the resources and faculty members at USC help prepare you for what you are doing now?
Joining student organizations such as USC’s Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) student chapter and USC’s Student Industry Association (SIA) helped me learn about different career opportunities for pharmacists by participating in committees and attending numerous informational sessions and student events.
I am grateful for the amazing faculty at USC and the mentors I have met through the Trojan Family, particularly Dr. Ed Lieskovan. He always made time for his students, no matter how busy his schedule. It was through our 1-on-1 meetings that I began to think about non-traditional paths in pharmacy and eventually a career in the pharmaceutical industry.
In general, how do you feel about the outlook for the pharmacy profession?
The outlook for pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry is very positive. When it comes to biopharmaceutical companies, you now see companies hiring pharmacists in almost every department (medical information, government affairs, market access, pricing, sales, marketing, health economics, regulatory affairs, and more) because of the versatility of the PharmD degree.
What does the phrase “Trojan Family” mean to you?
USC is a world-renowned university with a top-tier school of pharmacy; this translates into an alumni network full of leaders and amazing people. This network is called the Trojan Family because you belong to a community of students and alumni that are there to support one another. As alumni, this means staying connected and giving back. I have found my way of giving back by being a member of the USC School of Pharmacy Alumni Association Board of Directors. Here, I am able to help build our efforts to engage alumni, helping to ensure that they stay connected and that they have the opportunity to continue to support the School.