Training To Be A Pharmacoepidemiology

No parent has ever heard the statement: 'Mummy (or Daddy), I want to be a pharmaceutical physician pharmacoepidemiologist when I grow up'! Few physicians and very few pharmaceutical physicians choose this route. But what is along that route? The 'high road', in the USA at least, is graduation from medical school, obtaining at least 1 year of intense clinical postgraduate training (often leading to internal medicine or other primary care boards, the equivalent of MRCP in the UK), and then to undertake a further formal resi dency training program that leads to certification by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Residencies are inspected and approved by the Board, and may be in one of four areas: public health, general preventive medicine, occupational medicine, or aerospace medicine. Various concentrations in medical management are also becoming recognized. In the UK, registrar positions in most of these specialties are advertised, and the Diplomas in Occupational or Public Health, membership of the Faculties of Occupational or Public Health, and the Diploma in Aviation Medicine would provide equivalent experience and certification.

In the USA, the academic equivalent of these, which can often be pursued in parallel, is to obtain the additional degree of Master of Public Health (MPH). Board certification through a preventive medicine residency requires such formal academic training and an MPH degree. Again, European equivalents exist. A 4-5 year program can accomplish all of these. Additionally, those interested in pharmaceutical matters which involve epidemiology, but do not aspire to board certification, can often attend specialized courses, and use case studies in this area to fulfill their academic requirements, or, of course, at least to enroll in a MPH degree program. Many of these now exist as 'offcampus' (so-called executive) degree programs, particularly for physicians.

More commonly, if not the 'high road', a pharmaceutical physician will stumble into this area by lateral transfer within a company, or due to the chance happening of being assigned a development project that requires extensive pharmacoe-pidemiologic support. Such physicians can supplement their training with ad hoc programs in statistics and epidemiology that are commonly offered on a short-term or part-time non-degree basis by many universities and training groups, or an executive MPH.

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