Interview with Pharmacist and MBA Candidate Khanyisile Nkuku

19:12 Monrovia 0 Comments



Ms Khanyisile Nkuku  ( Khanyi ) is a Medical Device & IVD Registration Officer at SAHPRA, she holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Witwatersrand , Master’s in pharmacy administration & policy Regulations from University of Western Cape and is currently busy with  Masters in Business  Administration in Healthcare Leadership at University of Witwatersrand.

Just at the age 29 years , she is an experienced Pharmacist with successful background in medical device regulations and regulatory system strengthening.  Having great strength in policy advocacy, policy development, policy implementation and compliance. She has experience and knowledge in medical device registration, clinical trials regulation, law enforcement, licensing, post marketing surveillance, and good reliance and regulatory practice.

She partakes in the International medical device regulatory forum (IMDRF) working groups and Africa medical device forum (AMDF) working groups. She is further a committee member for two SABS Technical committees.

Tell us about your background

Growing up in a coloured township  within a family of 7 ,I have always been aiming high . Throughout high school  I was girl with ‘unparalleled focus’. When I set my mind to something  nothing can stand in my way . Rejecting one's circumstances has the potential to be a very strong motivator in life, both favourably and unfavourably. My own life, I believe, has been strongly influenced by my need to keep aiming high and not being confined by my circumstances. University was not an easy journey for as I become terribly sick during my second year, one might questioned why I did not give up there and there , but I was what one might call a fighter at heart . I believed in finishing what I have started and indeed God’s grace was with me as I graduated as one of the five students in the deans list .

What inspired you to become a pharmacist?

My parents are both diabetic, so I was very familiar with medicines at a young age. I was one of those kids who would read the patient information leaflet for fun. I was fascinated with Understanding how drugs work in our body hence my enrolment into pharmacy. however, like every pharmacist out there I had medicine in mind initially but on my application I had placed pharmacy first (imposter syndrome) as it seemed like the safer choice.

How has your employment journey been?

I completed my internship at Novartis, and it taught me quite a lot especially on the production and quality side of medicines manufacturing, not all was roses. I vividly remember how on my last week I made a granulation mistake that caused a whole batch of metformin to be discarded after performing greatly throughout the year, I thought that was the end of my career.

My entry to medical devices was fortunate, for my community service year, I was placed at the South African health products regulatory authority (SAHPRA) where I am still based and when I heard of medical devices, I was intrigued as I only knew counselling for HIV tests and nothing about the performance of the device. So, my quench for wanting to learn something new redirected me. I was fortunate that I started working while still in varsity however the full-time working life was different and required a lot.

I am thankful that I had great mentors along the way as noted I am an advocate for continuous learning hence, I am currently studying my second Master’s degree and will be applying of my PHD soon. I urge all graduates to have mentors and connect with people who are already walking the path that they wish to take , and to not be afraid to continue studying , There are so many gaps within the healthcare system that we as rising healthcare leaders can fill , with the increase in healthcare challenges and trends , it is imperative that we are not left behind and become part of the solution makers. As Gandhi said Be the change you want to see.

Can you describe a typical day in your work life?

My everyday includes reviewing of medical devices used for clinical trials and research use. Furthermore, advising applicants on their queries, drafting of guidance documents. On occasions I travel to other regulators’ for either training and presenting in conferences and workshops with topics such as good reliance practice. Working within the regulatory has its own hurdles especially being young and, in a department, fit for biomedical engineers, I have pivoted despite the hurdles.

My role clearly highlights how diverse pharmacy is, pharmacist are not only found behind the counter , There are nuclear pharmacist , regulatory affairs and policy pharmacist ,market access pharmacist , Chronic Illness Benefit (CIB) pharmacist, research pharmacist, clinical trials pharmacist and the list goes . Pharmacists play a key role in the healthcare system.

Do you have any advice for unemployed graduates who are hoping to join the pharmaceutical space?

The advice that I have for currently unemployed graduates is to also look at roles that a not typically seen as roles for pharmacist such clinical trial companies, medical device companies, medical aids, non-government organizations .

What advice would you give to your younger self?

As a person who is driven by passion, hard work and discipline, The advice I would give my younger self is that instant gratification is not always something you will see.  Patience and consistency when working toward your goal are important.  In today’s day and age, we are used to the instant gratification of simple things like taking a picture and immediately being able to look at it.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” — Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple Inc.

To contact Ms Khanyisile Nkuku, do visit her Linkedin profile. Click here to be redirected to Ms Nkuku's profile.

The SA Varsity Team would like thank Ms Khanyisile Nkuku for sharing her inspirational story with us, we are looking forward to witnessing more growth and prosperity from her as a trailblazer in the pharmaceutical space and in her academic endeavors! 


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