First graduate of U of T’s PharmD-MBA redefined himself through the combined program

Scott Wei Zhe Shi is the first graduate from the combined PharmD MBA program at the University of Toronto.

As the complexity of healthcare delivery increases, the need for pharmacists who also have management training and expertise will continue to grow. To meet this demand, the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Rotman School of Management offer a combined PharmD-MBA program which allows students to complete both programs in five academic years as opposed to six if taken separately.

Scott Shi learned about the PharmD-MBA program while in the early stages of his pharmacy degree. On June 21, 2019 Scott will be the first person to graduate from the combined program.

“The direct patient care pharmacists provide is important but I was looking for a career that would allow me to have impact at a broader, health systems level,” says Scott. “I wanted to be involved with moving new therapies and treatments to patients, so I decided to apply to the PharmD-MBA program.”

Clinical expertise and business fundamentals makes a powerful combo

In 2018, Scott graduated with a PharmD from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. The program provided him with a strong clinical and therapeutic education with multiple, hands-on patient care rotations. Scott says that the MBA program complemented his PharmD by providing a deeper understanding of how business works and the various roles and functioned connected to a business environment. The MBA also gave him the opportunity to build on the clinical communication skills gained through the PharmD and further enhance his professional communication skills.

This impressive combination of clinical and business-focused education has already led Scott to an exciting position with the Canadian business unit of IQVIA, a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions and contract research services to the life sciences industry. IQVIA was recently named to FORTUNE’s 2019 List of “World’s Most Admired Companies” in the Healthcare: Pharmacy and Other Services category.

“I’m very happy and I feel very fortunate to be at IQVIA, it really fits with my skillset,” says Scott who is a consultant with Canada’s Health Access and Outcomes team. “I’ve been in school a long time but now I really can use everything I’ve learned in pharmacy and at Rotman.”

In particular, Scott has found that the leadership at IQVIA greatly value his clinical insight and experience. “A PharmD is a powerful degree in this space,” Scott says. “The healthcare system is changing and becoming more data-driven and the fact that I can offer direct, patient-level experience and insight is significant.”

Do pharmacists need an MBA?

The additional knowledge and skills acquired through an MBA program can provide pharmacists with unique advantages and opportunities across different sectors, explains Zubin Austin, professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and pharmacy coordinator of the combined program.

“We are so pleased to have our first graduate from this important program,” says Austin.  “The combined Pharm D – MBA program is designed to help train leaders in the profession and the health care system who can combine both their business acumen with their pharmacy knowledge and skills to lead and manage the change our system needs to improve, remain sustainable, and meet the needs of our communities and population.”

Advice for new PharmD students

Looking back, what advice would Scott offer new PharmD students? “The biggest thing is to realize there are a lot of things you can do with your clinical degree. No matter where you want to be in the future, explore different avenues – and go to the lunch and learns!” he says. A self-described introvert, Scott says the combined program helped him buildup his confidence in a relatively short period of time. “I would recommend taking any opportunity to redefine or rebrand yourself, if that’s what you want to do.”