MSLs around the world: Europe

Today, we have the pleasure of sharing the story of Dr Rainy Marsh, an experienced MSL based in the UK. Rainy has given us some great insight into her role as an MSL and has advice for aspiring MSLs and MSLs:

Describe your career trajectory to date and how you arrived at the decision to become an MSL:

I came across the MSL role when I decided to leave academia during my postdoctoral research fellowship. Having seen a profile for the role I realised that the MSL function matched my love of learning and science communication as well as enjoying day to day variety in my work. At the time it was extremely difficult to get into an MSL role without a Medical/Pharmacy qualification, so I created a career plan to gain the skills that I was missing. This included a stint in laboratory sales as a life science specialist to experience a customer facing environment, diary planning and field based work. Following this I moved into regulatory medical writing so that I would be writing clinical trial protocols and study reports along with submission documents to demonstrate I could fully understand the trial designs and data discussed in the MSL role. Following this I secured my first MSL role as an Oncology MSL with Pierre Fabre UK.

What is your background/qualifications?

BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences with Molecular Genetics and intercalated year. PhD in Immunology and Cancer Research.

Which therapy area do you work in?

Cardiovascular/anticoagulation. In May I will be changing roles and will be working in Immunology. 

Which country are you in? How big is your region?

England. My territory has changed over time and now only consists of the North East England as I also focus on project work. In my new role I will be covering the North of the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

How much time do you spend travelling? How do you travel?

This varies on a weekly basis depending on internal and external meetings and conferences. I am generally out somewhere either on or off territory 2-5 days a week. Depending on what and where the meeting is, I generally cycle (local internal meetings), drive or get a train. For international meetings I tend to have to fly.

What do you enjoy most about being an MSL?

I love the variety of the role of the MSL. There are so many different projects to work on and different people to work with both internally and externally so no 2 days or weeks are the same. I love learning new things and sharing this with others as needed and being able to support my peers both internally and externally and in doing so demonstrating the value of the MSL role. 

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring MSL entering this career?

1.Talk to MSLs where you can, the role varies from company to company.

2. Look at MSL job descriptions and your own CV. Where are the skills gaps and how can you demonstrate them? This could be having a step wise career plan or finding courses you can go to or complete online to develop these skills.

3. Before an interview ensure you know how to critically appraise a paper, are familiar with section 3 of the ABPI code of practice and are aware of the pivotal Phase III data for the key drug you will be working with in the role you are applying for. +

What are your career aspirations?

With nearly 4 years experience as an MSL I am moving to more senior roles which involves more project and cross functional working. The MSL role is constantly evolving and I see value adding projects such as those involving digital media and continuous medical education as becoming more important.

Longer term I would ultimately like to move to a scientific advisor role.

How do you keep your energy and focus high to maintain performance?

Having ADHD is definitely an advantage for me in this respect. I have large amounts of energy and I am able to switch focus between my various projects as needed. However, I have had to do a lot or work in understanding time management better to ensure I stay on top of everything and do not procrastinate or let things slip. It is important to keep tight control of workload with to do lists or whatever project planning tools you prefer to use. 

What podcasts do you listen to or books do you read to advance your learning?

Recent reads include:

Atomic Habits – James Clear

Daring Greatly – Berne Brown

Eat that Frog – Brian Tracy

Ikigai – Hector Garcia

Little book of Ikigai – Ken Mogi

The code in the field – Joan Barnard


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