Work-life balance is something that frequently is discussed in the pharmaceutical industry. With the rapid development of therapies and constantly evolving research across therapeutic areas, it becomes easy, almost addictive, to “burn the candle at both ends.” Over time, this will just result in burn out which doesn’t do your company or yourself any good. To be on top of your professional game, I would challenge you to answer the following questions:
What does work-life balance mean to me?
This is going to be different for each and every person. For me, it means volunteering as a nurse and helping with the COVID-19 vaccine clinics in my area. For others, it may mean crafting or athletic endeavors. Whatever it is, know what keeps you at your best. Be mindful of things that may help you relax, but can be detrimental in the long run: drinking, excessive shopping/sleeping/gaming, etc. Anything in excess can be problematic; be mindful of your mental health as you move throughout your career and listen to those who are willing, to be honest with you.
Who else does my job impact and what does that balance mean to them?
For me, this includes my spouse, three kids, parents, and my grandma whom they care for. For other people, this could be a totally different group of people. Make sure prior to taking a position that you consider their thoughts and opinions on the position. The travel associated with MSL positions can be upwards of 75% which can be overwhelming at times. Be sure that those who your job impacts understand this and are prepared to support you in this. My husband knows that my job travel can be heavy, but to balance it out, I shop and meal prep to make his evening less stressful and assign my kids chores while I’m gone to lighten his load. Face-time has been awesome with my kids so that they know where I am and what’s going on. Hopefully, this makes my absence less stressful. Yes, I talk to my two dogs too. Whatever you need to do to lessen the negative impact of your travel, do that and do it consistently.
How can I work efficiently to optimize my balance?
Are you working hard or working smart? Are you planning a five-day trip that could be done in three with streamlined appointments? If you have difficulty finding balance, speak with a trusted coworker or manager to have them coach you in best practices as it applies to your company. Virtual meetings or phone calls can be helpful to offset what otherwise could be a chaotic travel schedule.
Most importantly, be ok with saying no! No is not a dirty word! It’s ok to set boundaries or prioritize what needs to get done to be able to find an appropriate work-life balance. Take your vacation time, make sure you’re there for all the important things in your personal life. At the end of their lives, no one wished they worked more!
Alyson Evans, DNP ACNS-BC MBA-HM MSL-BC
Alyson Evans is an Associate Director, Medical Science Liaison at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. When she’s not busy with work, she enjoys spending time with her husband of 13 years, Ryan, and her 3 children Brendan (11), Abby (8) and Natali (5).