Need advise transitioning into industry abroad  


New Colleague Registered
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2
January 13, 2020 8:00 am  

I am a medical doctor in the Caribbean. I have worked on clinical trials as a sub-investigator on multiple clinical trials over the last 3 years, including a major FDA trial. This includes experiences working with IQVIA. I do not have a green card. This year I will finish a MSc in Epidemiology. 

I am trying to figure out how to get it into industry in the USA, UK or Canada. Preference is the US then Canada then the UK. I'm not very clear on the specific role but I have a high interest in clinical trials management, statistics and business in general. I would even be interested in drug marketing and sales from an admin point of view, but I would prefer to keep my role more scientific.

Here are my questions:

Any really good short courses or certificates that would spring board me into the foreign industry?

Any good short degrees like one year Masters you would recommend, that also have some funding opportunities?

Any good books or resources you recommend to really set me on the right path? Especially since I am fairly clueless here on how to move forward.

Best routes in general considering immigration difficulties?



Honorable Maven Registered
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 643
January 13, 2020 11:29 am  

Hi TrialDoc:

I'll answer your question in order received then give my recommendatons.

1. There are no certificate or degree programs I recommend that would meet your foreign ambitions - from an investment perspective you'd get low returns.  There are some antiquated, if not, mythical views that a certificate or degree program on top of an already achieved "big degree" can help - waste of time.

2. There are a variety of resources on the internet that can help you understand career paths - I'd start there, no books to recommend per se. Also recommend you do informational interviews to understand and narrow down your path.

Now for recommendations.  Starting locally in a company would be your best bet in the short-term and then working in the company to identify an international transfer opportunity (expat).  Commercially, the pharmaceutical industry, the Carribean would represent an assembly of low volume, low financially contributing markets in the greater scheme of a globally operating pharmaceutical company.  Usually, those markets fall under management of a greater LATAM regional operations.  Therefore I'd look regionally, i.e. LATAM region, assuming you speak Spanish and/or Portuguese - most regional hubs are either in the big Latam markets of Mexico, Brazil, or even Argentina I've seen.  That would require a move there.  If you don't speak Spanish and/or Portuguese that would put you at a major disadvantage.

Assuming you do, look at not only Pharmas, but also CROs - your experience would tell you that CROs operate in nearly every country, and one access point for Clinical Trial Operations roles can be a CRA.

Save for some of the really big pharmas, the Carribean is usually served by local distributors, you can look for roles there in your local country understanding that you'd get experience but expats would be near impossible to come by given that company profile in your region.  

It would be difficult for you to make a transition from your own country into an international role be it US,UK, and Canada - I'd say forget field-force for now in those countries, I'll be really blunt and honest, field force is usually the domain of those who are nationals and culturally associated with the market.   You also won't know the market dynamics.

An option you can explore depending on your finances to  see if you would qualify in the UK for a highly specialized migrant worker visa.  See if you qualify and apply. If awarded you'd have to move to the UK and find a job. Jobs are plenty there - from CRO to 3rd party vendors. But that's an investment.

As for me, my international move, as enabled by the fact my partner and I had already experience in the US, which made us as a couple, competitive for international relocation and hire.  

So in summary to do recommend you start regional, or local and build up.   Target company's with bigger georgraphic foot prints. 

Nothing says you can't apply for jobs - do a few months of applications, it does not hurt and test the waters.  With your clinical experience, you never know. If you find nothing or get no bites, then ok at least proceed with starting locally, and/or do your visa applications etc. etc. etc.

Do try networking that will be a key component as well. 

OK hope this helped a bit - give some points to think of.  Not easy at all - but that's life and successes can be found.   I remember when I was in the US and we were thinking of a European move; nearly seemed insurmountable - but we did it.  There was luck for us, but luck as it's told is when opportunity meets preparation - so at least we had some level of preparation that somebody wanted.   I do know of a few LATAM medics /commercial who did transition to US/Europe, they started in the big latam markets (Mexico, Brazil) and through their development found expat assignments - and a couple even become "permanant expats".  i.e the settled in the country.




New Colleague Registered
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2
January 13, 2020 2:03 pm  

Appreciate the feedback, but i have to disagree with you on many points there. Any other opinions?

Dave Jensen
Prominent Maven Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 945
January 20, 2020 7:21 pm  
Posted by: TrialDoc

Appreciate the feedback, but i have to disagree with you on many points there. Any other opinions?

TrialDoc, you can't just come back and say you disagree with the points and then ask for a new opinion that you might like better! That's considered "rude." Why don't you engage DX with some commentary please about the points you disagree with? It took DX quite some time to write the lengthy reply above, and generally that's acknowledged and appreciated,

Dave Jensen Forum Moderator

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum