A day in the life of… a Medical Scientific Liaison Manager at Janssen UK
In our new series we ask folks from within pharma companies to share their highs and lows of their role and talk us through a typical working day.
In our first interview in this series we speak with Claire Clibborn, Medical Scientific Liaison Manager at Janssen UK, who shares with us her satisfaction at disseminating medical information on a day-to-day basis to make a genuine difference to the lives of patients.
RA: How did you come to be in this role?
CC: After finishing my PhD I knew that academic life wasn’t for me, but I did love science and I did enjoy talking about science especially helping people to understand complex ideas or thoughts. This led me to gain some much valued experience as an account manager at a medical education agency where I worked on UK, European and Global accounts in a variety of therapy areas. I was able to branch both sides of the accounts assigned to me with a deep scientific understanding of my clients products but also with the ability to liaise and network with high profile KOLs to ensure success of every aspect of their medical education programmes. Having a higher level of scientific experience that a PhD provides gives you a different outlook and often a different perspective on things, which I found was appreciated and valued both by my clients and my colleagues.
“It is a role with immense breadth and scope and one in which you really feel that you are helping patients…”
With that experience in mind it seemed like a natural step into a Medical Scientific Liaison (MSL) role, with the knowledge that you could focus on one therapy area and also the main aspect of the role is to provide insight into complex data, be that to healthcare professionals or your internal colleagues. It is a role with immense breadth and scope and one in which you really feel that you are helping patients as you can provide the information that a clinician requires to make their, often complex, clinical decisions. As I sit in the medical department it is a non-promotional role and therefore a reactive role, which means that you are called upon when there are particular questions to answer or a complex patient who may have comorbidities or concomitant medications which need to be taken into account. We have access to a wealth of information and data and can also provide information around any clinical trial development programmes, which means we can really add value to what is available in the literature.
RA: What does a typical day / week at work look like for you?
CC: This is truly a job where you can say that there is no typical day or typical week, so it might be helpful to describe just some of the activities that the role could contain.
HCP meetings – A healthcare professional can request a meeting with a MSL on a particular topic. Topics range from on-licence recent data releases, general disease education, off-licence clinical development programmes and anything in between. Presentations do have to go through medical copy approval prior to the meeting so they need to be prepared in advance.
Conference / Meeting attendance – There are regular academic conferences throughout the year which are great to attend. They allow you to update your own knowledge of what is going on in the therapy area, hot topics and any new data, which are being released on your own product or your competitors. We also have standalone meetings a couple of times a year which are organised by our European colleagues so its always great to attend those and get the perspective from European healthcare professionals.
Internal training – When new members of the team join or someone wants a refresher of the data and / or the disease area then MSLs are often called upon to conduct this training.
Internal business meetings – I’m a member of our country value team which means that I participate in new initiatives to ensure that we are doing as much as we can for our customers.
“…it was really satisfying to know that what you have told them will have an impact on the patients that they are seeing.”
Answering queries via email or phone – I often receive requests for information.
Plus any number of adhoc requests and projects that don’t fit into any of the above categories!
RA: What are the biggest challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?
CC: An MSL role isn’t a 9 til 5 job. There is a lot of travelling, so often flight delays or traffic can be your biggest problems! If you are at a conference or a meeting then it’s late nights and early mornings, so trying to keep on top of your normal day-to-day work can add an extra layer of challenge.
RA: What are the parts of your job that you find the most rewarding?
CC: It’s massively rewarding when you are giving a presentation and you can see in someone’s eyes the moment when they understand everything you are saying and it has suddenly just clicked for them. This happened to me at a recent meeting and it was really satisfying to know that what you have told them will have an impact on the patients that they are seeing.
Knowing that a patient is getting the most appropriate treatment for their disease is what motivates us all.
RA: What are the most important skills in doing your role well?
CC: You need to be able to assimilate a huge amount of scientific data as when meeting an HCP they could ask you anything! You should be confident and comfortable in speaking to healthcare professionals of all levels and able to multitask several ongoing projects at any given time.
RA: What is the likely progression from where you are now?
CC: The world is your oyster! Career progression is seen as an individual thing at Janssen and therefore it is important to try and identify the parts of the job that you love and from there develop into roles which maintain that. Career paths that other MSLs in the organisation have taken have involved moves into European teams, over to the commercial side of the company into marketing roles and also into Scientific Advisor and Medical lead roles.
“Knowing that a patient is getting the most appropriate treatment for their disease is what motivates us all.”
RA: What advice would you give a job seeker on looking to get into this role?
CC: It is important to have a higher level of scientific education, be that a PhD or as a pharmacist to get into this role. It also important to have demonstrable experience in KOL liaison and influencing as this is such a key part of the role.
RA: Who inspires you the most?
CC: I’m inspired by lots of people right now. Anyone who remembers that the patient is the reason we do what we do, inspires me to keep taking strides forward to make sure that I do everything that I can to ensure that the patient gets everything they need. I’m not going to name any names, but I have met quite a few people at Janssen who I fully aspire to be like!
RA: Thank you for your time.
If you would like to share your “A day in the life of…” please contact us here.
About the interviewee:
Claire Clibborn is a Medical Scientific Liaison Manager, Immunology for Janssen UK. Prior to joining Janssen UK, Claire was an Account Manager with the medical education agency ApotheCom (part of Huntsworth Health) looking after accounts across various therapy areas and also spent some time in the market research industry. She holds a PhD in dermatology and genetics from Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry and a BSc (hons) from the University of Aberdeen.
What’s the biggest challenge that you see to those in a MSL role?