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How to progress your Medical Affairs Career?

What is Medical Affairs?
Medical Affairs teams are commonly referred to as the scientific bridge between the industry and stakeholders. The activities conducted by the Medical Affairs teams are post-approval focused, with primary obligations to provide scientific and clinical support for commercial products. Essentially, Medical Affairs professionals will communicate the complex data gathered from the clinical trials to healthcare professionals and stakeholders.

This complex data is communicated through various methods/materials to educate healthcare professionals about the product. For example, educational information, reports and discussions with industry practitioners. Medical Affairs teams are responsible for reviewing these materials to ensure that they comply with the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) code of practice.  In addition to these key responsibilities, a Medical Affairs team manages the relationship with key opinion leaders (KOLs).

Typical Medical Affairs roles
Typical roles within the Medical Affairs sector are:

  • Medical Director
  • Head of Medical Affairs
  • Medical Manager
  • Medical Advisor
  • Medical Science Liaison (MSL)
  • Medical Lead

 

How can you progress your Medical Affairs Career?

If you are seeking to progress your career within Medical Affairs, you must assemble a broad skillset and gather relevant industry experience. In addition to this, you will need to complete several key tasks to accelerate your career progression. We have highlighted a few below:

 

  1. Hold a PhD, Pharmacy or Medical Degree
    As a minimum, you will hold a PhD. Often Pharmacy and medical degrees are the requirement but not at all times.
     
  2. Conduct Research
    Researching the sector will enable you to gain a better understanding of industry policies and best practices to be successful within your job role.
     
  3. Final Signatory Certificate
    As previously mentioned, Medical Affairs teams are responsible for reviewing communication materials developed by their company. Once these materials have been reviewed and approved, a senior-level professional within the team will then ‘’sign them off’’. To have the authority to do this, you will need to have gained the final signatory certification.

    This is often only available to gain once in a business so understanding the opportunity to gain this certification once in a role and business should be a key question you ask when taking your first role in the industry. It is only possible to be a final signatory if you are a pharmacist of GMC registered physician
  4. ABPI training
    Continuing professional development (CPD) allows professionals to identify gaps in their capabilities and knowledge. By addressing these through regular training, you will become more efficient within your job role.

 

What are the barriers to a career in Medical Affairs?

To have an extensive career within this sector, you may potentially have to overcome some barriers. We have highlighted a few of them below:

  • Failure to demonstrate industry experience could potentially turn off employers.
     
  • A PhD or Masters in Life Sciences is essential to gain access to entry-level roles within the sector.
     
  • The final signatory certificate is an important element to have gained to have if you are looking to progress your career towards Medical Director level
     
  • For some Medical Affairs positions, you’ll need to be a Pharmacist or GMC registered doctor – in particular, Medical Advisor, Medical Manager and Medical Director
     
  • The Medical Affairs Sector is very competitive. As a result, it can be very difficult to enter so persistence is key in getting your foot in the door with a business

 

Can you transition into the Medical Affairs sector without previous experience?

If you are looking to transition into the Medical Affairs sector from another industry, a PhD, Pharmacy or Medical Degree is absolutely paramount. Furthermore, industry knowledge and experience are very important. At entry level you need to demonstrate your understanding around Medical Affairs and why you want to move into the area. This with specialist therapy knowledge, aligned to a particular company, can help gain that first role  

 

Typical Medical Affairs career progression options

If a career in Medical Affairs is what you strive for, a typical career progression could look like:

  • An entry-level Medical Information role
  • Medical Science Liaison
  • Medical Advisor
  • Senior Medical Advisor
  • Medical Lead
  • Medical Manager
  • Associate Director
  • Medical Director

 

Conclusion

A career within Medical Affairs can be a very rewarding career. Also, many healthcare professionals seek to work within the sector due to the diverse career opportunities available to them. To be successful in your application to work within Medical Affairs you will need to be passionate about drug and medicine development Furthermore, you will need to have a high level of knowledge and expertise in the industry.

If you are looking to progress your career in Medical Affairs or would like an informal chat to discuss your career progression opportunities, our specialist consultants can help.

  • For junior to mid-level positions contact Danielle/ +44 (0)1625 541 046.
  • For senior positions contact Jenny/ +44 (0)1625 541 034. 

Alternatively, you can view all our current vacancies within this sector on our Medical Affairs Page.