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3 Takeaways from our SEMbio Hangout: What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been

Last month we hosted our last “SEMbio Hangout” of 2021. SEMbio Hangouts are a series of virtual meetings we host via Zoom where we meet with MSLs, aspiring MSLs, and MSL managers to discuss trends or popular topics.

Our theme this time was “What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been,” where we got to pick the brains of a few long-time field medical professionals and discuss how the MSL career of the past compares to today’s MSL role. Our panelists – Dave Claghorn, Deanna Tucker, and Paul Tomondy – have all been in the 1industry for 20+ years. Here are some of the main takeaways from our conversation with them.

1 – It’s all about the insights – more than ever

One of the main differences between 20th century MSL roles and today’s is the emphasis on insights. Our panelists did a great job of reminding us that when they began their field medical careers, insight gathering was almost an afterthought. You may have gathered insights here and there, but there wasn’t much of a process for organizing them or communicating them to leadership, and leadership might not even do anything with the insights. That, of course, isn’t the standard anymore. One of the panelists said that the insight presentations they routinely do for leadership nowadays are akin to giving them gold. Another pointed out that if you have a good enough relationship with your thought leaders, you can get insights from them that they wouldn’t even share in advisory boards – a great reminder about how important developing relationships is as an MSL.

2 – Don’t forget the influence of social media

Though MSLs shouldn’t engage on social media, it is a place where valuable information can be found. Some companies keep track of who the “online influencers” are in their respective fields. And thought leaders may not be very present on social media as a whole, but patient advocacy groups are. Seeing what they post can be a live look at what the patient community is saying, which prepares you for the direction your thought-leaders’ discussions may go in.

3 – Remember that once you’re a manager, it’s not about you anymore

There are a lot of MSLs out there who are wondering when they’ll get their break to move into a leadership role. One of the most helpful tips that our panel – which have all spent time as MSLs and as MSL managers – brought to light is that if you want to be an MSL manager, you must be prepared for the mental shift that is required. Once you’re a manager, it’s not about you at that point. Focusing solely on yourself may have led to your high MSL performance, which may have gotten you a promotion. However, you’ll need to be prepared to completely shift your focus to others in order to succeed as an MSL manager.

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Author: Lawrence Beck, CPC

Lawrence joined SEMbio in 2011 and is a team leader in recruiting and business development. He attended Texas Tech University on a path that led him to obtain his Master’s degree in Sports Management. That experience provides Lawrence with a unique perspective as a recruiter.