- Opportunities to Upskill
All MSLs have personal and professional growth goals. Whether your company provides training, or you have to seek it out yourself, take the opportunity during the restricted travel for self-improvement. Those books you wanted to read, the soft skills you needed to hone, the therapeutic area refreshers, online courses for new subjects you wanted to pursue, etc. Further, consider the exercise of problem solving and brainstorming around the impact a pandemic will have on the healthcare environment in general, but also specifically to your KOLs/HCPs that you engage. Combining your newly improved skills with an understanding and respect for what will be a completely changed landscape for field activities, you will find yourself ready and adaptable upon re-entry, which will go a long way in garnering respect from your peers, KOLS and HCPs.
- Work beyond your job description
The skill sets that many MSLs possess are applicable across a broad spectrum of roles within most medical/healthcare companies, including but not limited to data analytics, writing, critical medical or technical review, training, teaching, presenting, building a social media presence, soft skills such as adapting to multiple communication styles, remote meetings, cross-functional support, problem solving, networking and yes, dare I say it?…salesmanship. The MSLs that come out of this pandemic in a stronger professional position for career growth will be those that are willing to set aside their job description to provide value to the company in whatever capacity that is needed to make it through the current global crisis. A few examples: if your marketing colleagues need you to research pandemic related topics to support a blog post, say “yes,” or If your customer support team needs additional training on the impact of the pandemic to your company’s product portfolio, say “of course.” If your business development colleagues need help prospecting new opportunities to support company partners, the answer is “you bet, happy to help.” These are just a few examples of what I have asked of my MSL team during this pandemic. Every company may be different and some of your cross-functional peers may not think to ask, so volunteer your skills. Be adaptable; it will pay off.
- Redefine Value for KOLs
Under normal circumstances, most companies are prescriptive for the MSL role regarding scientific exchange. In the context of a pandemic, companies are adapting and open to feedback on bringing value to HCPs on the frontlines and supporting patients that are anxious and confused. As an MSL, you are a clinician or a scientist, and you have time to help keep the KOLs/HCPs you support informed and up to date. Keep in mind that HCPs treating patients don’t have time to keep up with the rapidly changing COVID-19 data, treatments, testing and scientific rigor around clinical research. This is what you are trained to do. As an example, in a recent newsletter to our clinical study sites, we dedicated the entire front page to COVID-19 updates and resources that are easy to use and directly applicable to their needs. In this time of chaos, fast paced decision making, burnout, fear, exhaustion, just remember to be of value. If you are stuck or not sure how you can help, reach out to your professional community for ideas. It won’t take long to find something that you know will resonate with your KOL/HCP network.