Medical information Scientist
The great thing about medical information is that it gives you transferable skills you can go on to use in lots of other jobs within the industry depending on where your interests lie. Steph
What do you do?
I work as a Medical Information Scientist, which primarily involves providing medical information in response to requests from healthcare professionals (HCPs), advising on the compliance and scientific accuracy of marketing campaigns and training the sales force on clinical data. Medical information act as the link between the medical and commercial functions of the business and are responsible for maintaining up-to-date knowledge of products/therapy areas in order to proactively disseminate relevant scientific, news and business information to internal customers in the sales, marketing and medical departments.
What does your typical day involve?
Each day is very varied depending on my workload. I cover the medical information phone line and email inbox on two half days a week, which involves taking phone calls and emails primarily from HCPs but sometimes patients and members of the public. These are typically requests for medical or scientific information on one or more of our marketed drugs. We aim to answer most enquiries within five working days but allow up to ten working days for more complex requests. In the course of answering enquiries from time to time we are made aware of Adverse Events (AEs) relating to our drugs and these are passed onto the pharmacovigilance department at the earliest opportunity to keep in line with MHRA reporting timelines.
Copy review and approval of a variety of promotional and non-promotional items forms a large part of my role and it is likely part of my day will involve this, especially around a product launch or marketing campaign refresh. It is important that all references quoted in material are checked for their accuracy and that they comply with the guidelines set out in the ABPI Code of Practice.
In order to keep other departments informed of the latest clinical data from my therapy area, I also produce a Current Awareness Bulletin once a month based on a thorough literature search of clinical databases to locate the latest and most relevant data. In line with this, I am responsible for updating the medical information ‘standard letters’ for my therapy area – approved letters we use when answering enquiries on commonly asked questions.
Other activities I get involved with include training new starters in the sales force on the clinical data from my assigned therapy area. I typically run these training days 3 – 4 times per year depending on recruitment activities. I also assist with company correspondence relating to ABPI Code of Practice complaints and submissions for national guidelines e.g. NICE.
Do you work mostly on your own or as part of team?
The medical information team is currently made up of 5 members which is comprised of Medical Information Scientists/Pharmacists and a Medical Information Manager.
Each member of the team is assigned their own therapy area which they are responsible for but we take questions on all therapy areas when covering phone shifts therefore often consult other members of the team when answering enquiries outside of our own therapy area. We each also work as part of a wider team within our individual therapy areas comprising of colleagues from other departments such as marketing, medical Affairs, sales and market access.
How long have you been in your current role?
1 year and 9 months.
What qualifications and experience do you have?
This is my first job in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to this I worked in a variety of non-pharmaceutical industry related roles. In my last job I worked as a Clinical Project Associate at a clinical research organisation (CRO) on a 5 month contract to gain pharmaceutical industry-related experience.
I have a BSc (Hons) Environmental Biology from the University of Nottingham and A levels in Biology, Chemistry and English Literature.
When and why did you decide on a career in the pharmaceutical industry?
About 3 years ago when I decided to change career. I spoke to a friend already working in the pharmaceutical industry who had said there were lots of opportunities and potential for development.
Do you think additional qualifications or experience would be an advantage for someone entering the industry now? What might be valuable?
Any kind of pharmaceutical industry (or related) experience will serve you well and demonstrate you are keen to work in this industry. For me that involved taking on an entry level contract role with a CRO. Competition can be fierce to work in medical information so anything you can do to distinguish yourself from other candidates will benefit you.
What is it like socially where you work?
Very sociable. My team are lovely as are my other colleagues and we regularly socialise outside of work. The company itself also organises social events such as Christmas and summer parties as well as other events throughout the year.
What possibilities are there for your career in the future?
The great thing about medical information is that it gives you transferable skills you can go on to use in lots of other jobs within the industry depending on where your interests lie. Some of the roles I have known other Medical Information Scientists to have gone on to include: Medical Scientific Liaison Officer, Scientific Advisor, Medical Information Manager, Marketing, Learning and Development and Regulatory roles.
What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role to have?
Communication skills are essential as you speak to healthcare professionals and other external personnel on a regular basis as well as liaise with most internal departments. Attention to detail is also important, especially when reviewing material and carrying out literature searches in response to information requests.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone seeking a career in the pharmaceutical industry?
Make yourself stand out from other candidates and make sure it is obvious on your CV and covering letter as these are the first thing a recruiter will see and are your opportunity to be called for an interview. Once you get an interview make sure you sell yourself as no one else will!