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A career-changer for pharmacy students: “Introduction to Entrepreneurship”

An interdisciplinary course in entrepreneurship run jointly by the School of Pharmacy and the Adnan Kassar School of Business broadens career paths for pharmacy students.

Committed to innovation in education and joint course delivery, LAU’s School of Pharmacy recently launched an “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” elective, tailor-made for its students. The course aims to equip pharmacy students with the knowledge and aptitude to learn and apply the  entrepreneurial process through opportunity recognition, as well as a complete feasibility analysis and business model for innovative entrepreneurial start-ups in the health care industry.

As part of this semester’s curriculum — delivered by Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship Jamal Maalouf — the school hosted a talk by Joelle Richa, founder and corporate director of the consultancy company, Health First.

“The entrepreneurship course should be considered by all students in the pharmacy school, since it is important for everyone to be exposed to business models and mindsets.” Richa said, addressing the students of pharmacy and of the school’s Career Opportunities course at Frem Civic Center, LAU Byblos Campus.

Speaking of her professional journey since graduating with a Pharm.D., Richa revealed that she had not envisioned a future for herself in a laboratory or a pharmacy, and took up a job as a pharmaceutical representative instead. She later joined the international pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly where she held various positions from general manager, marketing director to marketing transformation leader. By the time she started her own business, she had garnered more than 20 years experience in the multinational pharmaceutical industry in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

“You can start somewhere and then end up somewhere else,” she said, advising the students to expand their academic horizons, and remain “lifelong learners” with a “growth mindset.” Even though the students may not pursue careers as pharmacists, she added, their undergraduate degree would help them to better understand the business side of the pharmaceutical industry. The course, therefore, was a stepping-stone for the young undergraduates who, like Richa, may decide to be entrepreneurs in the field. 

Such is the case with LAU P2 or fourth-year pharmacy student Yara Osta who is exploring her options as she is inclined to pursue the business side of pharmacy. The course, she says, “is a reminder that there’s more to pharmacy than the clinical side and that the healthcare field is filled with opportunities.”

With its multidisciplinary focus, the elective indeed provides invaluable insight for pharmacy students into the variety of professional paths available to them.

For Nicholas Antaki, also a P2 pharmacy student, it covers “general concepts and skills of entrepreneurship, which [he] did not have the opportunity to tackle before, such as carrying out a feasibility study or establishing a business model” — valuable tools that he will apply in group projects, the pharmaceutical field, and in his career.

Maalouf shed light on the innovative nature of the course that will be run jointly by faculty from the Adnan Kassar School of Business and the School of Pharmacy. Pointing out that the elective is an “interdisciplinary bridge between the two departments,” she noted that it “was initiated by the pharmacy school, but the curriculum was prepared by faculty members from both departments.” The course “specifically caters to pharmacy students” who directly apply what they are learning in a course-long business project.

As LAU’s Pharm.D. program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the school is fulfilling ACPE’s recent requirement that entrepreneurship form part of a list of educational outcomes for the personal and professional development of students, explains Dean of the School of Pharmacy, Imad Btaiche. Thus, “the course reinforces the school’s commitment to preparing graduates who will become leaders in the profession by relying on a contemporary and dynamic curriculum that emphasizes a holistic approach to pharmacy education,” he said.

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