Alumna, Former Faculty Member, Works in Vaccine Education at Pfizer
It goes without saying that people have had questions about COVID-19 vaccines. Robyn Teply, PharmD’07, MBA’07, knows this better than most.
As the vaccines medical director for Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma at Pfizer, she’s spent much of the past year providing scientific information on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to health care providers, administrators, policymakers and other stakeholders involved in the vaccine rollout.
“In a medical affairs role, it’s more about providing the actual scientific information and data from the clinical trials and answering questions — medical questions — about the product to individuals who are using the products or have questions surrounding them,” says Teply, a former associate professor in Creighton University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. “We’re communicating scientific data in a nonpromotional way.”
Teply, a native of southern California, chose to attend pharmacy school at Creighton to, as she puts it, “get out of California for a little while and experience living in another part of the country. I had all the intentions of going back to California after pharmacy school. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
While at Creighton, she also earned a Master of Business Administration while pursuing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree. After graduation, Teply completed a two-year cardiovascular research fellowship at the Creighton Cardiac Center. She was then hired as a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacy Practice.
Working at Creighton, Teply says, allowed her to teach in the classroom and in the clinic, where she worked with fourth-year pharmacy students during their clinical rotations. It also gave her the opportunity to indulge in her love of research.
After 11 years with the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, Teply left to join Pfizer in June of 2020.
Perhaps not surprisingly, for the past several months, her work has focused primarily on providing educational resources on Pfizer’s BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2020.
“That’s when our big educational push started happening,” Teply says.
Much of her work has centered on providing information on the practical aspects of storing, preparing and administering the vaccine for point-of-use sites. Teply and her team have hosted several web conferences for clinics and other health organizations planning to vaccinate patients. So far, they’ve trained about 40,000 attendees, she says.
Teply’s work also involves training medical personnel on how to build trust in the vaccine. During these sessions, she walks participants through the development process and explains what an Emergency Use Authorization is, including the roles of each of the different agencies involved in the authorization. She also provides information on the types of individuals who are more likely to get vaccinated and those who are more likely to be hesitant.
“On one occasion, I was doing a presentation, and I got a private chat message from one of my former students who was in the session,” Teply says. “It was really cool reaching and connecting to former Creighton students and alumni from across the country using these training sessions and seeing them help with vaccination efforts.”
Her experience at Creighton — both as a student and as a member of the faculty — has proven invaluable in her current work, she says.
“My experience as an educator, especially, has significantly helped me in my role today,” she says.
“Even though I’m no longer educating pharmacy students per se, I’m still educating individuals and groups of people. That background in education helped me immensely in transitioning over to the work I do now.”
By Blake Ursch