Like every young person, I yearned to go out and make my mark in the world. I had a Pharmacy degree and was working as an assistant pharmacist in one of the top hospitals of Asia. I had big dreams of doing my masters abroad and becoming a clinical pharmacist. They came crashing down when my parents told me they didn’t want to send me abroad.

I got married and moved to the city and started working for a few months only to give it up when I found out I was pregnant. Though I was happy to be a mother, there was a void in my heart. I wanted to pursue a career. I grew restless over the years and took refuge in reading. I read other books and also my pharmacy books. I used to thumb through the Comprehensive Pharmacy Review by Lippincott and wished to clear licensure exams. But that remained just that, a wish. My second kid was born and I kind of settled into the role of an urban housewife. I did volunteer work, some content editing and taught Sunday school to keep myself busy.

I kept poking around to see if I could do something to upgrade myself. I had a liking for psychiatry and enrolled for a master’s program in counselling through distance education. Distance mode was fine with me as I had to take care of my kids. The course books were a good read and I understood why people behave the way they do. Personality assessments through tests were fun as me and my classmates went on a journey of self- discovery. That done, I enrolled for a masters in Pharmacology. Reading up on postgraduate pharmacy topics opened up a whole new world of fields worth exploring.

After a career break for over a decade, I found work in a hospital as a pharmacy and drugstores in-charge and worked in quality and safety upgradation. Sitting in the department surrounded by racks and refrigerators with all kinds of medicines, surgical stuff and implants, I used to wonder about the number of new drugs coming in to treat different diseases. A urologist narrated how a patient wanted a new drug for joint pain and got a prescription for Etodolac. Patients were looking for new remedies and therapies. The needs were plenty and research was trying to keep up with it.

I was eager to learn and signed up for another course, this time in drug safety and regulatory affairs. The world of clinical research opened up as I took module after module online. I started looking for jobs in the field, but the odds were stacked against me as I had no prior experience in clinical research. I clung to hope. No company was willing to take me in. Friends were sympathetic but it was obvious that entry into new careers was next to impossible at my age. I chanced upon the ICON plc website and liked the company profile. I applied and waited – nothing happened.

Not willing to drown in disappointment, I continued to prepare and apply for other suitable jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic was raging across the land and we were under lockdown. A few months later, ICON contacted me. After clearing the interviews, I joined the company as a clinical data coordinator – my dreams did come true! I was thrilled to bits and thanked the Good Lord for the turn of events.

After the onboarding, my joy quickly evaporated when I realized I knew next to nothing about data management. I’m grateful to my colleagues who patiently taught me the various aspects of the job and encouraged me onward.

I log off at the end of the day with a smile, even on difficult days. Another day, something new learned. I enjoy my journey into this new world of clinical research. Mine was a transition from medicine to molecule; from dealing with drugs and devices waiting to be prescribed for a patient, to the world of researching drugs for patients. I’m glad I didn’t give up.

Closing with a poem by Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

If Frost wouldn’t mind, I’d pen another line in here…ICON made all the difference.