Saturday, October 10, 2009

Case study: from residency to pharma

I'd like to share a brief case study of a physician who transitioned into the non-clinical world of medicine:
SGK (I'll use these random acronyms to refer to this individual) graduated from a U.S. medical school, did an internship at a university-based program and a partial residency in internal medicine. SGK knew that she did not want to pursue a career in clinical medicine, so she started looking for a non-clinical job during her second year of residency. She began networking with her college friends and explored several possibilities including consulting and pharma. After interviewing at several different types of companies, she landed a position as a medical science liaison (MSL) in a major pharma company and worked there for 2 years. The travel burden was too great, so she transitioned into a marketing division of pharma and climbed the corporate ladder to head up a marketing division within pharma.
This case illustrates that the "entry" point into the non-clinical world was an MSL position within pharma. These positions are often filled by MDs, PharmDs, and PhDs who wish to gain field experience. You don't need a medical license and residency experience is beneficial but certainly not always mandatory. Speaking of pharma field experience, you can also gain this by being a sales representative. However, an MSL may be a more desirable role because you'll have more opportunities to dig into the science of medicine, disease treatment, pharmacology, pathophysiology, etc.

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