Pharma & public health: your role and impact, with Dr. Terry-Ann Lynch, DPA, MPH

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with Dr. Terry-Ann Lynch who is the current Stakeholder and Patient Advocacy Lead at Sanofi Pharmaceutical. They discuss the role that public health professionals play in the pharmaceutical industry, skills needed to break into the industry, and how the impact of the work compares with more traditional public health paths.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How Terry-Ann first discovered the field of public health and her first public health jobs of being a health inspector and a nutrition educator
  • What made Terry-Ann interested in working in the pharmaceutical industry
  • The role that public health professionals play in the pharmaceutical industry and how the pharma environment is changing to favour the integration of public health
  • What skills are valuable when breaking into pharma
  • What a day in the life of a public health professional working in the pharmaceutical industry can look like
  • Comparing the impact of work in the public industry vs in pharma
  • Tips on how to smoothly transition into the field and where to find mentors in newer fields

Today’s Guest:

Terry-Ann Lynch has over 17 years of unwavering dedication to Public Health and has traversed a dynamic path that spans clinical research, advocacy, and program management. Currently positioned as the Stakeholder and Patient Advocacy Lead at Sanofi Pharmaceutical, Consumer Healthcare., Her work has transcended boundaries and left an indelible mark. She has worked at several pharmaceutical companies including Merck and Pfizer as the Patient Advocacy and Health Equity Lead across disease states. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Terry-Ann worked in the clinical research, program management, and data analytics arenas managing various studies funded by private and governmental agencies.

In her current role, she has the privilege of collaborating with patient advocacy organizations across a spectrum of disease states. Her mission is to address unmet needs, particularly focusing on health inequities in marginalized communities. Drawing from an extensive background in clinical research, she forges collaborations with public health departments, non-profit organizations, and medical societies to unveil educational gaps and facilitate interventions that tangibly enhance patient outcomes.

Terry-Ann obtained a master’s degree in public health from West Chester University of Pennsylvania where she is also pursuing excellence in her current Doctoral program in Public Policy. Her area of focus in Public Policy and Administration is a testament to her resolute commitment to dismantling access barriers that hinder the pursuit of health equity. This journey is driven by an unshakable belief in the power of policy to reshape the landscape of healthcare and uplift lives.

Terry-Ann has a relentless dedication, innovation, and a fervent desire to foster change. As she continues to navigate the intricate tapestry of Public Health, she is motivated by the promise of a future where health disparities are history and every individual’s well-being is a priority.

Featured on the Show:

Episode Transcript

Dr. Terry-Ann 0:00
When we say the term improving patient outcomes, and who knows that better than a public health professional, you have physicians, lawyers that are going back for training in public health, because they want to understand community, they want to understand what’s working, you know, they want to understand what does proper engagement look like? The degree speaks for itself. And I think you know, how we think the training that we’ve had is invaluable if anything.

Sujani 0:29
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host, Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Today’s session is a little bit different. I couldn’t decide between having Terry-Ann as a career club speaker, to talk about a career in pharma as a public health professional or to have it on the podcast. And so we decided we’re going to do both. So this is the first time we’re recording a podcast interview with a live audience. So that’s super exciting, and no pressure to Terry-Ann. But you know, Terry-Ann, and we’ve already chatted a little bit. Welcome to the PH SPOT community. These are the career club members. And you know, some of them might hear this as a recording. We might have podcast listeners listening to this. But either way, we’re going to hear some valuable advice and tips from you. And for our listeners Terry-Ann are Dr. Terry-Ann Lynch comes with 17 years of public health experience. And her experience has spanned over in clinical research, advocacy, program management. And currently she holds a position as a stakeholder and patient advocacy lead at Sanofi pharmaceutical and we’re going to find out what exactly that is. And then she’s also worked at other pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, and Pfizer, as a patient advocacy and Health Equity lead across the disease state and you know, pharma and public health. And Terry-Ann and I have talked about this, you know, sometimes we don’t know how to carve out no space in pharma, as public health professionals, and how to do that work in a way that is meaningful to us, right? And so the conversation we’re going to have today is about Terry-Ann’s experience during this journey, and then also give you the opportunity to ask any kind of personal questions you might have with your current career path. And if you’re looking for a career in pharmaceutical, maybe Terry-Ann, can help you kind of figure that out, as well. So Terry-Ann, one of the first questions that I absolutely love hearing the answer to from my guests is how they discovered public health. And, and I know you, amongst many of my listeners, but not a lot, have a bachelor’s degree in public health. And that tells me that you probably knew about public health a lot earlier than I ever found out about public health, because I found out you know, partway through my undergraduate degree. So when did you realize that, you know, there exists this field, and it’s called public health, and this is the work that people in that field do.

Dr. Terry-Ann 3:04
Thank you again. And hello, everybody. It’s interesting. And I have this on my LinkedIn page, right? Where I always say, you know, people ask me, how did I get into the field of public health and I honestly stumbled upon your public health, like many people, you know, sometimes you go into your undergrad, really not understanding or really knowing what you want to major in. My first major was actually computer science. And I chose that major, just because I had a brother in law who’s working on Wall Street at the time, and he was like a big tech guy. And he said, you know, what, pipe will be the way of the world, right? Graduated in 2002. However, and he was like, you know, if you’re thinking for thinking, this is going to be such a useful industry, and I’m like, I’m not doing, I took all these computer classes, and it just wasn’t something that I was into, right. And I didn’t want to be into something because just, you’re gonna make a lot of money. I remember going to my advisor and telling her like, I want to be in the health field, I have nurses, I have physicians in my family, and I have computer people, and I know I want to work with people, I don’t like blood. But I will work and work with patients and you know, be able to make an impact. So I ventured into nursing, again, when I say venture, and I probably took a couple of classes. And it just wasn’t something that, you know, really spoke to me. I remember my advisor telling me, Well, there’s this program, and it’s Community Health at the time. And it’s under the College of Health Professions. Now, to be able to do all the things that you love, you don’t have to physically work in the hospital, but there’s the internal public health class that you’re probably going to need anyway. If you are going into, you know, the nursing field, try it out, add it to your roster, and if you like it, and I’m going to be very honest with you, I enrolled into the public health and that was the best class I’ve ever taken. I remember sterile baths with my professor. You know, even to this day, we’re still connected. She’s one of my mentors. And it was just really uncovering the field of public health right talking about healthy people. We tend to be thinking, and that’s, again. And originally, you know, thinking about some of the priorities and some of the objectives that we want to achieve milestone, obesity, right, thinking about infectious diseases, how can we address a lot of those through education. And I felt like, you know, with public health, at least for me, I would be able to improve patient outcomes, you know, to some degree and work and still work with community and still work to really educate community. And it was just like a match made in heaven. And honestly, every class after that, I just loved it, I learned so much. And I’ll tell people again, if I just stumbled upon this piece, but it was one of the best decisions.

Sujani 5:38
That seems to be a lot of people’s stories, you know, you just stumble upon this, you speak to somebody that just tells you about this. And then you get down into this like mode of researching into talking to people. And that’s the important part. And even within public health, I think there’s so many different pathways that we can take. And you know, even today, everyone’s listening to your story. And this is not the only pathway, right, you know, they’re gonna, you’re gonna have to take the lessons that Terry-Ann is sharing and kind of the reflections that she’s having. And then you got to take what your experiences, have your- your mission on this planet, and then figure out a pathway for you. So the first job out of your undergrad, was that the nutrition health educator role that you did?

Dr. Terry-Ann 6:23
Yes and no. So out of public health, yes. But while I was in- I went to University, I saw that they were doing some recruiting on campus for people who wanted to do fire mental health inspection. There was like, Yeah, this is different, you know, you would go to different establishments, you know, do a lot of inspections, and also do whole inspections, and just different inspections of various on establishments throughout the city, it was a summer job. And I said, why not. And I think it was my first public health job role, and kind of really, you know, working in depth and looking at all the areas of public health people, I have such a very interesting view, because I’ve worked in environmental health, I worked in infectious diseases, and then nutrition and all of these things. But being a health inspector was just thought I was able to work with the community and educate them on food safety, it was something that I don’t think a lot of people think about, right, I’m gonna say it wasn’t good and bad, because I knew of all the complaints of feed and what went into, you know, health inspections, and you know, how restaurants will like, you know, pass their health inspection test, or if you may, and it was really good. And the funny part about that is, and you know, many of you if you are in public health and have a undergraduate degree in public health, when you’re doing your bachelor’s degree, you have to at least for temple, we had to do a junior internship as well as a senior. And from that experience, I was able to use that health inspection experience, again, as my junior internship experience. So it was really good for me. And I actually did that. After graduating, I had us Boston’s, and going back and doing that for the phone. But yes, I did work at the Albert Einstein hospital as a nutrition educator, things that my undergraduate degree really exposed me to early as I wanted to work with disenfranchised or low income, low income communities to really understand what are some of the barriers, right, that may be, especially when you’re talking about nutrition, and we’re talking about obesity, I’m talking about, you know, just various comorbidities that they may be facing, right, because of where they are. And you know, what resources that they’re lacking. So yes, I worked in the hospital, and we worked with a program that went into high school and elementary schools, and we will basically teach high schoolers and elementary school students about nutrition and proper nutritional health, we worked with a registered dietician, and we also work in the ER, right, so really recruit patients into our program. They think about, you know, what does the diets look like, and, and their link between chronic illnesses and really immersing that into if chronic illnesses were linked to poverty, right. So it was very eye opening. And it was very interesting to me, I really loved that position. Because again, here I am, I was able to educate community, I was also able to see the direct impact between chronic illnesses and poverty. And really, how do we then address those, right? How do we address those issues, and it was through education, as cliche as it may sound, it really is through education, if people understood the impact of eating healthy and what we’ve had on their health long term, they would make conscious decisions, right, to eat healthier, but a lot of the things obviously, as we know, on public health is the social determinants, right? And it’s the inequity that, you know, people in these communities face but what I loved about it is that we were able to provide those healthier options really, you know, provided the students you know, they would learn about various fruits and vegetables and, you know, how do you- you know, replace some of those unhealthy options with healthy options. So, I thought, you know, this was such a difference, and, you know, looking at nutrition, and I think very early on, I thought you needed to be in that position or nutritionist but you know, have a job like that. But again, when you have a public health degree, the world is your oyster. You got to do so many things because I always say we’re like inspect and we have such a great advantage point to really help inspector, if you may just, you know, with the plethora of things that we are privy to.

Sujani 10:08
Yeah, it’s interesting, because, you know, I’m curious to know, if early on in your career, you know, you have this kind of insight, 17 years after being in public health, and you can kind of see the different interests that you had, the different roles that you’ve had over the years and kind of put it all together and tell yourself that, you know, I did these roles, I went to these organizations, because there was this underlying mission that I was on, which was making sure that you can be an advocate for individuals of certain communities that you connected with. And then you also went on to say that public health is a great field, because the world is your oyster. And sometimes what I’ve heard from people early on in their careers is that- that itself is overwhelming, right? Because so many interests, so many areas that they’re passionate about, so many organizations they want to work with, like, do I work in nonprofit? Do I do academia? Do I work like at a startup? I love climate change, I want to be an advocate for like HIV research. And so did you have that clarity early on? Or is it something that you’re reflecting on now?

Dr. Terry-Ann 11:20
And that’s such a great question. Because I think that’s why I just love this. But I had a goal in mind, I said, I’m going to be I’m going to be well versed in a lot of things. I don’t know what that will look like down the road. But I did know that you know, pharma was going to be my, like I wanted to be a part of, I wanted to really bring forth that you know, lived experience or just direct experience into pharma because I do believe that patients need to be immersed in drug development. And they really have to understand the meaning of pharma. You know, what are some of these barriers that people are facing? I’m going to be honest with you, what I know now, and what you know, I wish I knew then, is that I wish I advocated more to have, you know, colleagues of mine into pharmaceuticals, like when I got into, because there’s still a disconnect, right? There’s still a hunger if you may, for public health minds and public health experiences, right? But I think a lot of people still do not know that the pharmaceutical industry is an option for them. You think just like me, I thought I needed to research. So I worked at the Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia, clinical research manager, you know, I saw it I needed to, you know, be in a lab, we need to be, right, it’s just you have to always think outside the box, I tell people that I mentor all the time, what separates yourself from another person, right, I thought what we learned very early on from leaving undergrad is that the straight right arrow, or the template for public health after you graduated to be a health educator, which is great, because you’re working with community, and you get to educate a community, but there’s so many more options. And I just felt like I needed to just dabble into everything, until I found my place. And what that led me to contribute is that pharma wants that. Right? They have a lot of people who work in pharma that are on sale. Right, that is in markets that have worked in labs that are you know, have a you know, a degree in business. But what they don’t have and what they’re lacking is that that public health mind, or that public health practice, that public health professional, that’s bringing a different, a different lens, right, to a lot of the things that we do in this industry. So I’ll say to you to answer your question that I didn’t know, I had an idea of where I wanted to end up. And because I didn’t know exactly what pharma had to offer. I figured if I had a plethora of experience and a lot of things, you know, I would find.

Sujani 13:39
And you know, as I’m scrolling through your experiences on your LinkedIn, I love that you’ve done that unapologetically. Right? So you’ve worked in, like STD health education, you’ve worked in public health regulation, as an inspector, you’ve worked in foundations, you’ve worked in universities, you’ve worked in hospitals, you’ve worked in research, you’ve worked in like program management, and data analytics. And I think I can keep going. And it was about 10 years of kind of dabbling in these areas, until you enter like a pharmaceutical organization. And we’ll get there. But there’s a point I want to make there is that one, I love that you did that unapologetically and intentionally because sometimes people want to build a resume that looks like it makes sense, right? Like you’re progressing a certain way. But then the other key part is if you’re able to weave all the different experiences, to tell the story of who you are and how you’re contributing to an organization, it doesn’t matter what type of role you’ve done and where you’ve worked. Right?

Dr. Terry-Ann 14:49
That is absolutely correct. Because one of the things and you know, I guess we will get to it was also hard for me to transition from nonprofit or you know, for approximating. It was very difficult, because when you think about the pharmaceutical industry, it’s very big industry, right? And there’s a lot going on. You talk about big pharma, we talk about, you know, all the work that people are doing and research and, you know, when you think about, are we in it for treatment? Are you going to procure research, I’ll tell you that. Being a public health professional, you’re always a public health professional, right, you are always going to put that mind of, you want to improve patient outcomes. And that’s how I start my day and my day, that’s what makes me really excited to do the work that I do. And, you know, before going to pharma, like I said, that was supposed to be my end all be all, for my career, just where I wanted to end up, I had to really think about, you know, what impact will I have, when I get started? Things like, what do I want to do? I know that it will be very different than working directly with patients. And I say directly, you know, for a lot of my jobs, I was working in the homes of various community members, right? Enrolling them in a trial in a hospital, right, or having programs and, you know, educating them on various intervention programs that they were living with HIV or living with cancer, whatever, that at the time. But how would that differ from me when I get to the pharmaceutica, because you are far removed in a away from, you know, having that patient touch. And I said to myself, Well, I’m gonna bring forth all of the experiences that I have, there was this hot buzzword called, advocacy, very interesting. And I felt like I’ve always been an advocate, you know, working in nonprofit. And I think we all have, if you have worked in nonprofits, you’re always an advocate, right. But I think what they were looking for is a person who worked directly with patients that wasn’t doing it from a clinical standpoint, as a nurse, or as a social worker, but had a public name literally said, a public health. And when I was hired into Merck, they were looking for an HIV advocate, someone who worked with the HIV community understood their barriers to care, understood, you know, that trust is very important in this community. And then a person who really wasn’t was comfortable coming into wide space because they didn’t know what they did. Right? So how do you build that for them? How do you build that strategy to work with community? What would that look like from a public health? And I was so excited when I was offered the opportunities interview, because I thought that, you know, in order to get into pharma, I really needed a strong research background. But what I had all the while is a public health mind, and a mind to want to help people. I don’t say patients, I say people, because we’re all people, right, at some point, we have been in the hospital or have a family member that has been diagnosed with something that we ourselves see, right. I wanted, I had that hunger and that passion to help people. And I didn’t know about, you know, also amazing work outside of sales outside of, you know, that other set of pharmas half in the profit area where, you know, they’re trying to really be partners, with the community. And that’s what I gained with advocacy and working with my policy colleagues and things of that in research. And you know, all of the people that are in pharma that just want to do, that they want to learn, again, they understand it takes all hands on deck approach, but they don’t know what they don’t know. So I think one of the things that I’ve been striving to do with have more discussions like this, to have people really understand that this is an option for them, whether you want to be in research, advocacy policy, or just you know, health equity. This is an area where your public health training and background can be really useful in the pharmaceutical industry. And this is a mission of mine, I see someone on here that I’ve talked to. And we’ve talked about this, because it’s one of the things where I think, if we don’t get this right, we’re really going to be missing the mark. Right, we can be placed in so many different sectors, whether it’s your point, nonprofits, academia, but I think pharmaceuticals should definitely be on that list. Because this is where drug discoveries happen. And if we don’t understand what barriers secure the patients or people face in their everyday life, and how will we get that right?

Sujani 19:05
You know, when you say this, the cliche saying or quote, be the change that you want to see kind of comes to mind, right? We can we can talk about big bad pharma, or we can also go in and contribute our public health minds. I’m going to kind of press you on that a little bit. You know, we can all be confident that we have the public health mind, and I think that’s one thing. The other thing is showing the hiring manager on the other side of a pharmaceutical company that you, someone with experience and nonprofit experience in academia, never worked in a pharmaceutical company can do this job. And so how do you do that? And, you know, for our listeners, after working for 10 years in non pharmaceutical organizations you applied and you didn’t start there in like a junior role. You started there as an Associate Director of Patient and medical education. So clearly there- There was something that you did in your application to showcase all of the strengths that you brought, despite having not built a career, you know, from early on in pharma.

Dr. Terry-Ann 20:11
I will say this, when I went on the interview, the hiring manager said to me, there is so much experience on the inside. So internal is that you know, people obviously, right, but what I want is a different set of that. I want someone to come in and tell us what we’re not doing. I want someone to come in and talk about how you’ve worked with, someone who has solid relationships already. And then someone who understands public health, looking over your resume, you’ve worked in the community, we don’t have that. And he’s like, you know, that’s the piece that we’re missing. We don’t have that person who understands research, we don’t have that person. And you know, he said it really just unapologetically as well, he’s like, I’m gonna tell you, there’s just a lot of interest in this role. But you having worked in nonprofit, and we want to work with nonprofits, right? We’re trying to build trust within community. And I said to him, I said, I don’t have pharmaceutical experience, but I have public health relationships, I really think about the trust that I’ve built. The things that I’ve seen, as I’m working with the community members on what are- what are some of the distress that they have within the system? Right? What are they lacking? When it comes to clinical, you know, research and clinical trials? You know, we talked about all things that I’ve learned during my tenure working in nonprofit, and I think that was it, that was enough, that was enough for him to take a chance and say, you know, what, I want you on my team, I want you to, you know, work with me on strategy, you know, I want to try something new. And, you know, it’s been amazing ever since, because I think, as he took a chance on me, you know, I continue to advocate, you know, with a lot of my colleagues who do have, you know, public health, formal training, you know, whether it’s a master’s degree or DrPH. However, there is such a hunger, to also build alliances, and then build interest outside of what where we are working now. And you know, having, you know, open houses or, you know, going to various schools of public health to talk about them in that specific program to see a pharma would be of interest to them, because I don’t think we understand the value, especially after COVID, that you bring that the specific fees. Again, you know, when you think about vaccines, and you think about improving, when you when we say the term improving patient outcomes, what is that, and who knows that better than a public health professional, you have physicians, lawyers, that are going back for training in public health, because they want to understand community, they want to understand, you know, what’s working, you know, they want to understand what does proper engagement look like, when you’re looking at disease outbreak. You know, how do you follow that they need that formal training, the degree speaks for itself, to be honest with you. And I think, you know, how we think the training that we’ve had, is invaluable in the state. And I’ll continue to advocate for us to broaden right, our horizons with the areas that we would like to work in. Because pharma needs you. We really do, you know, and, again, I think we just need to do a better job at ensuring that people are educated that this is an option.

Sujani 23:20
The person who interviewed you clearly saw the value of public health professionals. And I’m curious, and this was also a question from one of our club members is, do you feel like that’s a sentiment across the entire organization, whether it was at Merck or Sanofi? Do you feel like you’re accepted by Pharma? Like, can you confidently go in and say like, Yeah, I’m coming in with a public health thinking. People have shared that maybe that’s not the case, you know, for what their experience and I’m curious if you faced any of that.

Dr. Terry-Ann 23:53
I’ll say this, when I finally transitioned into pharma, pharma was at a very interesting- where they no longer were 100% focused on the ACP, the healthcare professional, they wanted to hear from the patient. Right? So if we’re patient outcomes, if we’re putting this patient at the center of the work, you need people who understand patient, patient care, what would set a public health person, what would set them apart from a nurse, and or a social worker, again, is just our training, right? It’s how you think about classes as an I’ll just say biases, right? And think about, you know, epidemiology calls, like with your health education. It’s a different type of training. Again, I always say that we’re inspectors, right? We look for links between different areas. Together, we know how to talk to people. We know how to engage people. We know how to find that link, right? That that’s such that important link between disease outbreaks and patient outcomes. And I can confidently say working at Pfizer, working at Sanofi and working at Merck, there was such a- attention to a lot of the things that I was saying a lot of the experiences that I’ve had even colleagues of mine, because we didn’t have that type of thinking, internally, I can confidently say this, because of just some of the things that I was able to. I think it was just the timing of when I came into Pharma. You know, we were shifting our thinking from okay, maybe it’s not only the HCPs perspective, we have to really put the patients have a seat at the table, hear from them. What are they lacking? What do they need? How do we address those needs, and it was just the right timing. And that’s where we are now, I think that’s where we will be 1015 20 years from now. Because who knows best than the people who aren’t.

Sujani 25:43
That’s- that’s really good to hear. And I’m glad to hear that that kind of acceptance, you’re seeing that that’s going to continue, which is good news for us. So thinking back, or maybe you’re hiring, you know, people on your team who are early in their career, any tips that you can offer when it comes to breaking into Pharma. In addition that to what you’ve already said, you know, really strengthening the public health mind that you come with in your application, but anything tactical that our listeners, and people in today’s kind of live recording can take back if they’re working on an application for a pharma company?

Dr. Terry-Ann 26:23
So I’ll say start with something, do a lot of the cool networking, you know, connections on LinkedIn, or people, I think I’ve had some really great outcomes from just connecting with people. You know, asking if they’ll schedule 15 minute coffee chats with me just to you know, understand, you know, the work that they’re doing, and just to learn more about the company. So I think that’s very important. LinkedIn is such a valuable platform, if used properly, you have to build your brand, I want to say build your brand, stay up to date on just the current events in your- you know, in your space, what you’re interested in, just be present, right on LinkedIn. But I’ll say that and you know, make those connections. I’ll also say that in pharma right now, we’re looking for people with great project management skills, that’s like a very important thing to have, because you’re gonna be wearing many hats, right? So understanding how you can be the continuity from you know, various projects that you may be working on, from start to finish, we want people who are able to analyze program, you can show that from just the classes that we’ve had, that’s very important, showing pharma on your application or hiring managers or recruiters that you’ve worked, if you do have direct patient events, that’s something that, that you have an eye for just understanding how to problem solve. So we want people to come in and already understand how to problems all right, you know, we all can sit around and talk about what we should do this, or, you know, this is the issue, we all know the issue, right? We understand kind of what the causation is, or what you know, causes some things to happen. But we need people to come in and kind of say, Okay, this is what I know will work. And if it won’t, we’ll try again, a lot of these companies are willing to try again, we just need people who are coming in with an entrepreneurial mind, people who can really problem solve, and people who can work cross collaborative. And that’s very important, because you’re going to be working with a plenty of colleagues from policy, as I mentioned, and research and clinical and health equity, and it’s a bunch of people that will be relying on you. But guess what, you’re the expert. They don’t listen, they want to know, what do you think Bernard? Gabriela? You know, what have you seen that have worked? You know, what have you seen that didn’t work? You know, how do we with the resources that we have, how do we ensure that, you know, we equipped you with what you need to be successful? No, listen, we’re listening.

Sujani 28:48
That’s amazing. And thank you for that very clear, less. So about project management, direct patient experience, eye for problem solving, entrepreneurial mindset and ability to work, you know, across multiple groups and be able to like, I think, like, synthesize what everyone’s saying, and then to problem solve with that, right? Amazing. I’m conscious of time because I do want to give our club members a chance to ask you questions. So I might kind of end with just two quick questions. And one of them is, the role that you’re in today is patient and consumer advocacy, health equity lead, and the other two kind of roles that you’ve held going back to that role right now. And that’s at Sanofi. Prior to that, you were at Pfizer, and you were a community activation lead. And then prior to that at Merck, you are a US patient advocacy lead. And so feel free to talk about them or answer this question relative to each organization or you can answer it as a whole, but what does someone do in that role? What is it?

Dr. Terry-Ann 29:51
Okay, so, my all three roles I work in patient, what does that mean? That means that I work with nonprofit organizations that have a 501 C three status that you know, it’s either in a specific therapeutic area such as I’ll just do HIV, working on HIV for a very long time. I’ll work as a nonprofit HIV organization that is specifically focused on providing resources for people who are living with HIV. What does that mean- education, Linkage to Care as, right? Educating them on what treatment options are available, right? Why it’s important for you to understand that, you know, if you have a partner, how do you protect yourself? Right? So for my job now, I work with those organizations to provide funding opportunities for various educational initiatives that they essentially want to offer the community. So at Merck, I worked with a hundred plus organization, I was a US need. So I was it for all the organs that wasn’t- we all know there are more than 100 bucks for the HIV space. I was marked point person for advocacy, for HIV, breast cancer and some gynecological cancer, other gynecological cancers, to find out what these organizations are doing, what they’re prioritizing, and how we align so we can work together. And you know, these were very unbranded, we didn’t touch on problems. We didn’t cover anything. We talked about education, and how can we ensure that people are educated on making informed decisions, not only with their physicians, but with their family members, right? And so we wanted to keep people safe, and we wanted them to be informed. So I provided grant funding, as well as I provided funding for various charitable contributions, specifically walks or galas, you know that they may be having to fundraise for research. So I did that. At Pfizer, I worked as a community activation lead. So I was in charge of the rare disease advocacy, that we work with cardiologist who would provide education to community members, whether that be churches, barber shops to be made, wherever the community would gather, these cardiologists would provide education, what unzoom platforms and somewhere in person or hybrid on cardiomyopathy, and what I worked on as well as single cell disease and other gene therapies. And we will just bring that education to the community and ensure that they were informed, right, so if they, you know, saw signs and symptoms of this specific illness, they were able to, you know, speak to their physician, or, you know, speak to someone who could link them to, and Sanofi. So I said to myself, Okay, you have all the therapeutic experience, what is something that you’ll need? I’ve never worked on consumer health. What is that? This is when drugs are already approved. And public health professionals understand that even though drugs are approved, and over the counter, there are still barriers to medication, right? It could be income, it could be just not understanding, you know what this is for, or not even having awareness that this is available, so I get to work with Ministries of Health, I get to work with the FDA. What does that look like? How do we educate various communities about the options? I work in a plethora of computers, I don’t want to bore you. But one of the areas that I work with is looking at disparities within the African American and black communities. If people are not treated, let’s say you have allergy, do you know what options are out there for you to treat that out? Right over the counter and why I thought this experience was important. Because when I speak to people like you, I can talk about these various, you know, avenues within the pharmaceutical industry. And you can understand that this is basically like they need our expertise, right? How do you engage these various organizations? How do you work with them? You know, how do we become partner? Right? And we know that health inequities are still rampant when people can even go to a pharmacy. And you know, these drugs are not 1000s of dollars, but they still don’t know that. So how do you bring education at that local level? And it’s been great, right? I have met a lot of people, I have the opportunity to work cross collaboratively with my internal colleagues. It’s an amazing opportunity. And I feel that there’s so many different parts of pharma that has been untapped and touched with, you know, our just our thinking, and I just might my goal is to continue to advocate continue to create avenues, where we can have public health professionals come in and do internships, right or rotations just immerse themselves in this space.

Sujani 34:30
That’s amazing. I have so many questions, but I’m not going to be greedy with asking them all myself. I have you on texting bases. So you’re gonna get like midnight questions like what did you do in that role? So this is when I want to open it up to anybody who might have a question for Terry-Ann so if you’re feeling like you want to ask the question yourself, just raise your hand and as you’re kind of formulating any questions you might have for Terry-Ann, I’m going to end kind of my portion of the interview by asking you looking back at your you know, almost 20 years Public health career journey- Is there anything that you think you would have done differently?

Dr. Terry-Ann 35:04
One of the things that really, really took me for a loop is that I’ve always been an advocate, right, for people living with cancer or you know, living with, you know, various ailments, or various chronic illnesses. And, you know, when it happens to you on a public, just from a personal standpoint, very different, right? I feel like I know too much. So I’m, I am my dad’s advocate, right, and the family is coming to me, what do you know about this? And should we do this and, you know, one of the things that I really am fortunate to have access to a bunch of people that are just smart, and that do this on a day to day, you know, I work with divisions for a while, you work with researchers, you have access to data, you can just really, you know, I don’t know, just draw from all the things that you’re learning, and just try to not only educate yourself, but educate, you’re just trying to, you know, have these resources and make an informed decision, right, not a bias decision, informed decision. All of the experiences that we’ve had have led me here, where it’s just, I feel like, there’s so many great things that are gonna happen. And I just feel really good about where we are now, in the space, I do think we need to have some kind of licensure. But that’s a topic for another discussion, I feel like public health, we’re not getting the type of attention that we are, we deserved outside of Pharma. And I think the pandemic has provided us an opportunity to shine. And I always said, it’s going to create a platform for us to want to do more, and you know, people want to learn from us. So I think there is absolutely nothing that I would do differently. I enjoy the work that I do, I always say if it doesn’t feel like work, like applause, you know, you’re helping people, you get to talk all day. Sometimes I don’t want to talk all day, but you know, it’s good. It’s good things that we’re discussing, and, you know, you just have access to just all of these wonderful, brilliant minds, and you get to help people. And at the end of the day, I think that’s what makes me feel good about the work that I’m doing now to continue to do. I will say this, though, you know, as I was venturing into this public policy degree, I wanted to get a DrPH, I thought, you know, like another public health degree. And so we agreed, but I didn’t know that our doctoral degree in public administration, I am the only person in my cohort with a political background. And you learn about policy, and you learn about how we think about barriers secure is very different than a person who was in policy things about barriers here, right. So if you’re going to go and you know, have a different degree, if you will, you know, want to seek higher education. That’s deterring you from a DrPH, but I wanted to really also bring, you know, awareness to a doctoral degree in public policy, and to really bring that public health perspective, and talk about policy changes, and thinking about social services that are offered to communities, and how you impact that. And I stumbled upon this degree again. And it’s also been a very wonderful experience so far. But I just wanted to share that because again, public health is needed in like every state. Obviously, for safety, right, you think about all the areas that you want to impact and you’re, you have such a great vantage point. I’ll end it there, because I can talk about this all night.

Sujani 35:04
Thank you for that. Those are some of my other questions that I was trying to hold back is your doctoral degree, but definitely, we can have you on again. So I have two questions lined up. And that might take us to the hour, so maybe I’ll hand it to Ruby first for her question. So go for it, Ruby.

Ruby 38:41
Sure. Hi, Terry-Ann. And thank you so much for being here. This is really insightful. I have actually been considering patient advocacy jobs. I’ve never kind of moved to that space before. But done like you mentioned, I’ve been taking some of these informational interviews, and a question myself coming from nonprofit and academia as a background, and you having like, so much broad experience coming from nonprofit first, I’d love to hear from you. How you feel in terms of comparatively the impact and fulfillment you feel in these roles that you’ve had in comparison to your work and nonprofit, and how you felt, you know, community wise, your access to working with patients wise, how has that felt for you?

Dr. Terry-Ann 39:33
I’ll say that what I do miss is working with patients directly with people directly going, you know, into homes or into the hospital and, you know, working with direct people. I will say that when I wanted to accomplish on the pharmaceutical side, though, as I mentioned earlier, is that when we think about how people are accessing care or have you know, access to medication or different treatment options, I think we need the patients so I feel like the fulfillment comes where I have a seat at the table. And I’m able to, you know, have direct insight into what I’ve observed, what is needed. And how do we bring forth those patient voices, you know, in an boards, right, or you know, something that we’re trying to do on the pharmaceutical side, I think I have the best of both worlds. But I think there’s so much work to do now, I’m going to stick around for a while. But I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn, because I’m a connector, I always say I’m a connector, and I would love to connect you with other people, you know, that I’ve worked with, you know, coming into pharmaceuticals, that have mentored me, and really, you know, just opened up my eyes are just various areas and avenues that I can venture into.

Ruby 40:42
Thank you so much. Yeah, I would really appreciate that. And in general, I’ve just learned so much from you just thinking about the equity lens, and being able to apply that to pharma, which is something like I’ve struggled with a little bit in terms of coming from a very, very traditional public health background, and wanting to sort of branch out and see what that looks like. So thank you.

Sujani 41:03
Yeah, I agree. I also appreciate that lens, Terry-Ann, just the way you’ve been explaining the role and the impact that you’ve had. So thank you for that. And great question, Ruby.The next question is from Rubin, and Rubin, feel free to add to the question if you want, so it kind of goes back to like fitting into pharma as a public health person and the support that you get. So the question is, in addition to having the relevant experience that pharma companies are looking for, what are some other factors that might have helped with your transition into this kind of like new industry, right? So for example, was mentoring available when you were a new employee at your pharma position, and were there other things that kind of helped you transition into this new world?

Dr. Terry-Ann 41:49
The mentoring was not available, but what pharma does provide for you are defining professional development resources. So you can have like, when I just started, it was kind of understanding business and then standing, you know, the pharmaceutical industry sector of really understanding, you know, what, how finance plays a role, how we, you know, I guess work with various collaborations, because a lot of the time pharmaceutical companies work with other pharmaceutical companies, right, on various projects, they basically teach you the business side of that, right. So in terms of like, developmental programs, so what we had was to be honest with you, mentoring was not an option at the time, from like a public health point of view. However, we have various employee business resources that talked about or will touch upon health equity, and really talk about, you know, the importance of community and the importance of keeping the patient at the center. I think that’s as close as it got to that mentorship that you’re discussing. But I’ll say this to you. Companies are looking for people who can think outside of the box. I always say what sets you apart from another person coming in, you know, public health, how do your experiences differ? When you’re thinking about what you bring to the table? How do you create an elevator speech? And this is a thing farm alone? How can you talk about yourself in 60 seconds? With all of the things that you’re doing? And what has been most impactful for you? And how do you think that experience is going to make a difference in pharma? And I’ll tell you right now, if I, you know, I’ve had sat through a lot of interview, I look for that passion, I look for that, I don’t know, I always say I want someone who is able to have that entrepreneurial spirit and who’s not afraid of working in a white space environment. So if I’m going to talk to you, and you’re going to talk to me about all of your experiences, and I say, okay, by hiring you today, and I don’t really know what you’re going to be doing, it could be this one day, and it could look very different two months down the line, right? Have you worked in spaces like that? Now you’re comfortable with that? And what would you bring from your prior experience into this field to ensure that we’re successful, and if you’re comfortable? Again, we’re not scared to make a mistake. We’ve just want to learn from, right. That’s the type of team members that I’ve had. And that’s the type of cultivation.

Rubin 42:06
Thank you so much.

Sujani 44:11
I might just add, the mentorship that doesn’t exist in the actual organization can exist elsewhere. Right. Terry-Ann is a great example. So if you do end up getting into pharma, you have a public health background. I’m sure Terry-Ann knows a lot of people and I think I’ve interviewed maybe somebody else also, and I’m sure there are many more and you just kind of have to create your own community of mentors. I think what I learned partway through, you know, my first 10 years in public health is that initially, I thought every manager or every supervisor I had would be my mentor, because the first few were so excellent. And then when that didn’t happen, I think in my third job, I was a bit disappointed and I realized that that was actually the norm. Right, your- your manager may not be your mentor, that you directly report to and you have to find mentors and community and support elsewhere and it doesn’t have to be within your own team. I don’t know if you have anything to add to that, Terry-Ann, just around mentorship?

Dr. Terry-Ann 45:06
Well, that’s actually a very good, you want people who have very varied experiences? What are some of the things that you can learn from them? What are some of the things that they can learn from you? I’ve had great managers, that’s a very distinct reason why is that, because you’re a manager, you’re a leader, I want to, you know, there’s a lot of people that I’ve worked with that love to be player coaches, which means they can do the job that I, that I’m tasked to do, and they’re comfortable with doing that. And those are the managers that I felt like, and I’ve learned a lot from, because they understand some of the barriers that I faced, and, you know, in my role, but I feel like a lot of the people that I’ve worked in, you know, at the various companies, they’ve always been willing to talk about, you know, their experiences and learn. They’re very active listeners are important, right? So you will have people that are just- just really open to learning, and collaborating. It’s a very collaborative space, are working with people day in and day out, that may not be in the department that you work in, but the work that you’re doing, contributes to their success. And so those are people that you can also, you know, learn from one thing that I wanted to make clear to in pharma. And it could be in other sectors as well, we have sponsors, and we have mentors, right? And they always say they don’t work interchangeably. People you mentor, or, people who are mentors that can be inside pharma or outside of pharma, but sponsors are who basically can vouch for you, and who knows your capabilities. So if you develop these relationships, and let’s say you’re going for another role, they can basically say, well, this is the evolution and this is how I’ve seen Terry-Ann and grow over, you know, her tenure being in this role. And, you know, they’re usually in higher positions. And that’s very important early on. So identify a sponsor, and you can be proactive, and people are gonna say, I’m just being honest, they’re gonna say yes, and they want to, you know, teach you because a lot of these people have been there for like, 15-20 years. You want fresh mind, right, and they want to cultivate. So I just wanted to shoot.

Sujani 45:09
Excellent, excellent. Thank you so much, Terry-Ann. And I know our club members are going to see more of you because of your just passion for mentorship. And we’re going to try to keep Terry-Ann around to do more of these sessions. But to just wrap today up, as you think about the future of your own career, you know, personally, what are you looking forward to the most or, you know, what’s what’s most exciting for you in the next few years.

Dr. Terry-Ann 47:24
I do say that, you know, many, many years from now, if you want to get into the space of consulting, I think there are just so many things, especially you know, as I’m bridging that gap between public health professionals, and I want to get into really working with a bachelor’s degree more, because I feel like that’s where you can also have broader impact and really kind of shape that type of thinking into various industries that they can work into. I’m really excited for the future of public health. There are just so many opportunities. There are so many amazing professionals that are venturing into this space. I think we’re on a really good platform right now. Because people are eager to learn more. And people are really excited to learn more about the field of public health. They’re not just stumbling upon public health anymore, like, you know, maybe we have, but they are actively looking, right, to have a profession in public health. And I think that makes me excited. Like, there’s so many opportunities. So excited.

Sujani 48:27
That’s such an excellent point. And a great point to kind of end with is that people aren’t stumbling on public health anymore, and we’re actively looking for a career in itself. Thank you so much, Terry-Ann, and or Dr. Terry-Ann Lynch, for joining us. And this has been such a pleasure. And thanks to everyone that tuned in live for this recording with us.

Dr. Terry-Ann 48:49
Have a great rest of your night.

Sujani 48:51
Night morning, depending on where you’re calling in from.

Dr. Terry-Ann 48:53
Thank you.

Sujani 48:59
Hey, I hope you enjoyed that episode. And if you want to get the links or information mentioned in today’s episode, you can head over to And we’ll have everything there for you. And before you go, I want to tell you about the public health career club. So if you’ve been looking for a place to connect and build meaningful relationships with other public health professionals, from all around the world, you should join us in the public health career club. We launched the club with the vision of becoming the number one hangout spot dedicated to building and growing your dream public health career. And in addition to being able to connect and build those meaningful relationships with other public health professionals, the club also offers other great resources for your career growth and success, like mindset coaching, job preparation, clinics, and career growth strategy sessions in the form of trainings and talks, all delivered by experts and inspiring individuals in these areas. So if you want to learn more or want to join the club, you can visit our page at And we’ll have all the information there. And you know as a space that’s being intentionally curated to bring together like minded public health professionals who are not only there to push themselves to become the best versions of themselves, but also each other. And with that, I can’t wait to see how this is going to have a ripple effect in the world as we all work together to better the health of our populations and just have immense impact in the world. And I hope you’ll be joining us in the public health career club.


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PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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