My journey as a Medical Science Liaison began a little over a year ago. Yes, you read that correctly. I completely changed my career during a pandemic. I was leaving the comfort of a position where I was an expert who directly managed home parenteral nutrition patients for a new career within the pharmaceutical industry. To say this was daunting, and frankly, a little scary is an understatement.
The transition from a traditional pharmacist role to one within Medical Affairs in the industry comes with a lot of unknowns. Will I be good at it? How will it feel to work remotely? Will I create solid relationships with my team when I am not working face to face with them? How will I feel about giving up direct patient care? These are just a few examples of things that went through my mind as I started this transition to a Medical Science Liaison.
Over this last year, I have learned so much not just about the industry but also about myself. In my past clinical roles, I was always seen as the expert in my specialty. Becoming an MSL, I had to prove myself to Key Opinion Leaders and other healthcare professionals that didn’t know me or my background. It has been such a rewarding experience to now have these clinicians reach out to me and trust that I have the knowledge to assist them.
Being a resource to so many healthcare professionals has really shown me that I am having a bigger impact on patients and HCP education than I was when practicing direct patient care. Learning this alleviated my initial concern about leaving direct patient care. Nutrition education, especially for pharmacists, has always been an interest of mine. However, in my previous positions, I really didn’t have opportunities to explore this interest and act on it. As an MSL, education is a large part of my role and my passion for it is fostered and encouraged by leadership.
The MSL role is allowing me to grow beyond my previous pharmacist experience. Not only with the work I am doing but also with learning new ways to communicate virtually. Throughout this last year and a half, we have all had to become experts in several virtual platforms in order to engage with both clinicians and each other. I was surprised at how easy it has been to build strong relationships with my current team in this remote role. I feel just as connected to them as I was to my home infusion team when working in an office.
This strong team relationship has been instrumental in my success as an MSL. Having a team and leadership that is supportive and excited for your growth is priceless. From day one they have reminded me that this MSL journey is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to learn not only the role itself but even more so all the literature and information around the products and disease states themselves. Knowledge comes with time and experience.
For any new or aspiring MSLs, take the risk. Jump in with both feet and tackle this role. As you find your way, make the role your own. Don’t be afraid to take chances and try something new. Change can be hard and it can be scary but find your passion and run with it. And remember, you don’t have to be the hare. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Courtney Wood, PharmD, BCNSP, CNSC
Courtney joined Fresenius Kabi USA’s parenteral nutrition division as a Medical Science Liaison in 2020, serving the West region. In this role, Courtney establishes and maintains scientific relationships with academic researchers, physicians, and clinicians; develops and provides educational materials and presentations; and responds to product and pharmaceutical inquiries.
Prior to joining Fresenius Kabi, Courtney served as the team pharmacist for Optum Home Infusion for Nutrition, Immunoglobulin, Biologic and Inotropic therapies. Prior to home infusion, Courtney was a pharmacist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for eight years. She was trained to work in all critical care units (NICU, PICU, CVICU), hematology/oncology, transplant, general pediatrics, and emergency department while also a member of the kinetics team providing pharmacy consults for antibiotic therapy, renal dosing, and ketogenic diet profile evaluations. She has been involved in the design, implementation, and management of a pharmacy with compounding capabilities within a new hospital unit has USP 797 clean room experience, and has managed over 28 pharmacists during previous positions.
Courtney brings to the MSL team more than 18 years of pharmacy experience in inpatient, outpatient, and home infusion in both the adult and pediatric populations. Courtney is currently the Secretary/Treasurer of the GI/Liver/Nutrition PRN group within the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Additionally, she has authored and presented multiple abstracts at the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), National Home Infusion Association (NHIA), American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) national conventions.
Courtney received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Arizona, Tucson. She is dual board certified as a nutrition support pharmacist and nutrition support clinician. Courtney resides in Arizona with her family and can be contacted directly at 480.263.1987 or Courtney.Wood01@Fresenius-Kabi.com or on LinkedIn.
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