Alumni Spotlight: Ashley McShane, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business '14

November 02, 2016

  • Ashley McShane, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business '14, knows that being a strong student, though important, is only one part of building a successful career in health sciences.

    “You have to be organized, open to change, and flexible,” she says the MCPHS alumna, who graduated magna cum laude in 2014.

    Since April 2015, Ashley has been a Clinical Trial Associate at Shire. There she provides direct support to the project manager as well as the associate directors and directors. “I assist in running and managing the clinical trials I’m assigned to from start to finish. I’m involved in all internal and external study meetings, working with the cross-functional teams,” she says.

    Curious to know more about how her MCPHS experience fuels her career, we asked Ashley to share her perspective with us.

    Why did you choose Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business program?

    I knew I wanted to go into healthcare but more of the business aspect of it. I researched online and found this program and thought I was a perfect fit.

    As a graduate, how would you describe Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business?

    I think this program gives a great core background in science and blends in business courses that are specific to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. It is a unique degree that gives a competitive edge.

    Did you have a favorite course at MCPHS?

    Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Management and Drug Development were my two favorites because I enjoyed the classes as well as the professors. And those two in particular have had the most direct impact on my current role and long-term career path.

    Can you tell us about your internship experience?

    I had a summer 2013 internship at Shire as a Clinical Operations Intern. At first I wasn’t sure what ‘clinical operations’ really meant. But by talking to and meeting with many different people within that group at Shire, I learned so much and brought my school courses full circle.

    During my internship I also learned about the company culture and unique challenges for the rare disease studies. This internship really opened up one of the many paths available with this degree. And, ultimately, influenced my current career path.

    Since you currently work at Shire, is it safe to assume your internship played a role?

    Yes! I worked alongside a project manager and now I’m currently a Clinical Trial Associate, providing support to project managers. My internship showed me not only what a project manager does, but also how they need to perform in order to run a successful clinical trial.

    This internship also helped my current role by giving me contacts to keep in touch with that ultimately expedited the hiring process when I applied. Internal referrals are so great. They keep you from going into the black hole of hiring managers.

    What is a typical day like in your job?

    Every day is a little different depending on the stage of the study and its needs. I’m involved with many study start-up activities such as executing contracts and other documents, planning of Investigator Meetings, site activations, and managing vendors. Study maintenance includes staying updated on enrollment targets and other important timeline milestones. Study close-out includes site close-out visits, reconciliation of documents, and review of the clinical study report.

    Do you have a favorite part to your career?

    I very much enjoy the teams I’m involved with and work directly with every day. Also, Shire has a large focus on rare disease where most of the patients are young in age. Knowing the work you do is directly helping people who currently have no other options for their disease is a truly rewarding experience.

    Are there other ways MCPHS helped your career today?

    The course workload was not light, which helped me with time management and organizational skills. Also, people know MCPHS -- they know it’s a great school and has high expectations.

    Do you have any advice for current MCPHS students?

    Making contacts is invaluable. Stay connected. Don’t be afraid to apply to multiple positions.

    I’m the perfect example of how invaluable internships can be. So even if you are about to graduate, an internship is still a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and make connections.

    Interested in a future in pharmaceutical business? Our Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business program on our Boston campus is a full-time, four year undergraduate degree program that empowers students with a blended curriculum of biological and pharmaceutical sciences and business for students interested in business careers in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.