Friday, November 13, 2015

A day in the life of a scientist in pharma medical communication

A guest post from PharmaFriend about a day in her life in big pharma medical communication, aka marketing (Sunday 11/8).  BTW, this was her great post on applying for jobs outside academia.

Hello Dear Readers,

PharmaFriend here to give you a glimpse of my day while I’m at a scientific conference. I’m a few days late; so, please accept my apologies. There are a few differences between attending a congress as a participant/scientist, vendor for pharma client, and actual pharma client. The biggest difference is how much time I spend working before the actual meeting starts. So let’s take it from the top:

4:30-6:00am. AWAKE. Jet lag is killing me, but I try to be somewhat productive and do some emails.

6:00-7:15am Jog to Pier 39. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that I have a lot more stamina when I work out during the meetings. Fortunately, the jet lag has worked in my favor and I have been able to get some good calorie burning in before this long day begins.

7:15-8:15am Cleaning up my inbox. I did not put on my out of office notification (big mistake). This means that I should respond to some of the mails that keep pouring even when I’m away.

8:15-9:30am Breakfast. It’s an important meal and I’m starving after my run. While at breakfast, I confirm that the external clinicians have everything they need for today’s activities. I also catch up with colleagues that have other pre-meeting activities going on at the congress.

9:30-10:30am Film crew prep. We are doing an activity that requires interviews with several medical experts. So, I need to brief the film crew and go over the discussion guides. The facilitators are not really subject matter experts; so, I’m a little nervous about it. I’m not doing the interviews myself, which tweaks the control-freak within, but I move on.

10:30-12:30am The shoot. All goes really well. Everyone was engaged and we got some really good footage. The crew and doctors got along fine and I can calm down about part 1 being all done. This is going to be a great piece when it finally hits the internet.

12:30am-1:45pm Dim sum. We are in San Francisco after all and it’s delicious.

1:45-2:30pm Walk the congress center exhibition floor. There are 2 reasons for doing this. 1) Competitive intelligence and 2) Figure out who has the best coffee. Hey, the learned behavior of seeking free food has not diminished since grad school days. It’s just a bit more refined. I ran into an old colleague from my vendor days. It turns out that 4 of us are here and I so psyched to see them all.

2:30-4:00pm Attend some sessions. Finally, I get to hear some data, after spending the day in congress-adjacent activities. Of course I have 2 different sessions on opposite side of the congress hall. My pedometer is getting its fill as it always does onsite. Back when I worked in the ad agency world, I could easily log 30K steps in McCormick Place, alone. My speaker has just told me that she is not coming for her interview tomorrow. She is overbooked and I am panicking a little bit, as this is critical education content for physicians.

4:00-5:00pm Back on the congress exhibition floor. I’m trying to maintain calm and put out this little fire. There is not much, I can do, but I didn’t have transparency into the scheduling issue until now. I actually found the good coffee and I need it since I’ve been up since 4:30. I take a peak of the amount of gaming being incorporated into the medical education. These ideas could be something to incorporate into next year’s designs.

5:00-6:30pm. Downtime before dinner. I do more email cleaning. Thank goodness for Sundays and the lack of new emails. I get my inbox down to something more manageable and send a note to the speaker for tomorrow’s video interview. It’s all a bust; so, I head to Macy’s with a colleague.

6:30-9:00pm. Ladies’ dinner. Nice ladies’ dinner with work colleagues. The food was unremarkable, but the company was nice. I’m still pissed about interview tomorrow, but I need to get over it.

9:00-10:30pm. Nightcap. After a long day, I spend a little time sipping something with bubbles.

10:30-midnight. It’s morning time CET, so, I check in the other half back home and I look at my iPhone. I’ve got to review some documents and take care of some budget issues to prep for the end of year. I really should write up these meeting minutes, but I am super sleepy. Those may have to wait until after the congress is all finished. Tomorrow, I get to do it all again.


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