In our last post, we interviewed one of our Medical Affairs fellows, Jordan Messer. You can read his interview here. This week, we bring you an op-ed from one of our MCPHS/BD Medical Affairs fellows, Chris Morse. Learn more about the importance of including pharmacists in the medical affairs field and find out about some of the unique clinical opportunities available to our fellows through the program’s academic scholarship component.
My name is Chris Morse, and I am a Global Medical Affairs Fellow in diabetes care at Becton Dickinson (BD). Additionally, I am an ambulatory care pharmacist and an adjunct faculty member for MCPHS University.
As a pharmacist, the greatest value you bring to the business is your clinical acumen; therefore, developing those skills is essential if you want to rise to a position of leadership in a medical function. This was what Dr. Drilon Saliu, Global Medical Director at BD, told me back when I was just a student on my APPE rotations at the company. I asked why he put such high value on one’s clinical experience. He responded “Look at those who hold the positions of leadership within the medical function. They are typically MDs who spent decades treating the patient population for whom they are now developing drugs. What makes you different from them? Clinical experience.”
If you want to be a senior director, VP, or even a CMO you have to assert your value as the voice of the provider and the patient. So, while it is easy as a P3 or P4 student to become hyper-focused on industry experience, don’t lose sight of the true purpose of a pharmacist, particularly if you want to work in medical affairs.
Other sections of the blog give a good overview of the medical affairs function, but what makes the BD fellowship unique from others around the country is the built-in ambulatory care pharmacist experience. I work with Dr. Jennifer Goldman from MCPHS University at a primary care clinic where we manage primarily patients with Type 2 diabetes. Her clinic is a model for how diabetes is treated in an ideal world, which also makes it an ideal place to practice. Being able to treat to the guidelines is a privilege because many areas cannot afford to do so.
If you have had any ambulatory care experience, then you know how these clinics work. Our APPE students prepare notes ahead of time and make recommendations; we bring the patients into the clinic room for evaluation and treatment modification and then finalize our notes at the end of the day. We might see 5-6 patients in a day, each for about an hour. Overall, the clinic has had great success in getting their patients to hit their glycemic, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals, and this is largely due to the work of Dr. Goldman, the students, and me.
Having this hands-on experience gives me credibility when I meet with our key opinion leaders (experts in the field) or when I share my thoughts in meetings. Imagine sitting in a room with R&D, operations, regulatory, quality, and any other relevant functions in product development. What value do you bring to the table? As a pharmacist in medical affairs, you’re the one they look to for identifying unmet needs, grounding the team’s expectations for a product, and providing insights from external stakeholders and that can only be done through personal experience.
As I move into the second year of my fellowship, I know there is still a lot to learn from Dr. Goldman and at the clinic, and I intend to practice as much as possible and continue to publish. Precepting students will be less of a priority for me as I begin to focus more on evidence generation and strategy.
For those interested in medical affairs if there is one piece of advice I can share with you it would be to take advantage of any opportunity you can to strengthen your clinical knowledge in the therapeutic area relevant to your company. It will serve you well in your future.
Chris Morse, PharmD, is a Global Medical Affairs Post-Doctoral Fellow with MCPHS University and BD
Want to know more about our functional areas, as well as an opportunity to network with our current fellows and preceptors? Register for the MCPHS Industry Fellowship Day here!