You’ve decided to transition from clinician to industry…GREAT!!! There are many clinical professionals in the MSL role. From medical doctors to advanced practice nurses and every other allied health professional in between, clinicians are experts at translational research. As a clinician, you can readily bring data to real world clinical practice. This experience resonates well with KOLs as it builds a connection, a sense of comradery and trust, given that you understand what they go through every day. Caring for patients can be quite complicated, and having a scientific resource in the pharmaceutical industry that understands the clinical world is priceless. Yet what are your needs?
- Why are you leaving clinical practice? Maybe you want a change of pace. Maybe you are looking for other opportunities for career growth. Whatever your reason, you need to be ok with it. Don’t transition because someone tells you to or for the potential allure of a larger paycheck. More money won’t give you personal satisfaction in the long run.
- Is now a good time? Are you single, free to travel and able to relocate as you please? Are you married with 3 kids and 2 dogs and Target feels like a getaway? Take the time to consider what parts of your life will hang in the balance while you travel. For me, work life balance is not quite accurate. Rather, I prefer to look at balance as work life compromise. Industry can offer amazing opportunities, but you must be sure to balance it with your home life. Your career may inadvertently become your spouse’s career as well. Be sure to have transparent conversations and agree on what those compromises will look like for both you and your family.
- Do you plan on maintaining your license? This consideration is big. If you do, plan for how you will obtain the continuing education you will need for licensure and be honest with your employer about this need. They may be able to help with your renewal fees and adjust work projects to allow you to maintain continuing education.
- What therapeutic areas are your passion? If you are a cardiologist, chances are you aren’t going into dermatology. If you are an advanced practice nurse in adult health, pediatrics isn’t likely going to be an easy sell. Make a logical choice about where to start. Ophthalmology made sense for me as I had experience in advanced assessment, pharmacology and eye care in a tertiary setting. Had I chosen to start in oncology, I likely would not have gotten a call for an interview because I had no primary experience in this area. Leverage your strengths! Break into a therapeutic area where you think you can be the most successful. Branch out from there after you understand the inner working areas of industry on a deeper level.
- Clinical compliance is not pharma compliance. I can’t be clear enough about this statement. Having been a clinician for a number of years doesn’t mean you understand the regulated industry “sandbox” you are about to play in as a MSL. For your own sake, study the laws, PhRMA guidelines and MSL guidelines so that you don’t make simple mistakes in your first MSL position. Knowing compliance areas will enhance your ability to get an offer for an MSL position!
- Find a mentor with your same licensure and work with them as you transition. Having a sounding board makes the first year so much easier. Similar educational background coupled with same career focus area will build a strong bridge of joint understanding.
Congratulations on your decision! This transition is a new way to lead as a clinician in your chosen field and improve patient care from a new industry vantage point. You are not any less the clinician you were before joining industry, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Your impact on patients’ lives has a much farther reach than you will ever know.
Alyson Evans, DNP, MBA, MSL-BC
Alyson Evans is a member of the medical affairs team at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Mount Carmel College of Nursing, and has practiced as an Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist for nine years. Her Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree is from the University of Cincinnati. Alyson is fluent in research, evidence-based practice and interdisciplinary collaboration. Most recently, she completed her MBA in healthcare management. Alyson had been married for 11 years to her wonderful husband Ryan and they have 3 kids, Brendan (10), Abby (7), Natali (4), and 2 dogs Ranger and Autumn.