Over the course of 2019, TriNet Pharma noticed several trends in the staffing of Medical Affairs organizations. The trends are directly related to the fact that Life Sciences companies have recognized the value of what their Medical Affairs colleagues bring to the overall business. In today’s environment, Medical Affairs is highly sought after to act as strategic partners during the numerous stages of drug development. They are a vital part of evidence-based data activities, clinical trial enrollment work, KOL engagement, and countless other critically important aspects of bringing a drug to market.
Given the depth and breadth of Medical Affairs responsibilities, it has never been as important as it is today to find highly qualified professionals for teams belonging to pharma, biotech, device, and diagnostics companies across the globe.
2019 Key Medical Affairs Staffing Trends:
- Device and diagnostics companies are finding it increasingly necessary to have Medical Affairs expertise within their organizations. They understand the value of Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) and providing more career opportunities for such.
- Globally, life sciences companies are shifting products to the United States (US). They may open a US headquarters or acquire a company or a company’s product line to “get their foot in the door.” One of the first hiring priorities for these organizations is in Medical Affairs.
- Experienced Medical Affairs professionals are choosing to work for small biotech companies or pharma start-ups. These life sciences companies allow professionals to “wear more hats;” have a greater, more visible impact on the organization; and offer career skill growth opportunities. While there may be a higher risk to working for a small company/start-up, there is often a higher reward.
- The length of time that Medical Affairs staff stay with an organization has decreased. A three-year tenure is a long time today.
- There is a growing demand for contract Medical Science Liaisons. The contract model offers companies significant flexibility prior to committing to full-time employees. In addition, many professionals are willing to leave permanent positions for contract roles. These opportunities often allow an individual to be “on the ground floor,” career growth, and the chance to be involved with activities that would never be presented to them in their current role.
- Large companies are increasingly hiring entry-level individuals in Medical Affairs. They have the resources to train those new to an organization.
- Companies are more open to degrees that are not doctorate-level. Nurses with master’s degrees frequently join oncology- and neurology-related Medical Affairs teams. The right clinical and therapeutic experience can go a long way; therefore, it is critical for one to have a resume that reflects that experience. In addition, by not limiting a role to doctorate-level candidates, the candidate pool is greatly increased.
- Salaries continue to increase for experienced MSLs. We saw approximately a 5-10% increase across the three therapeutic areas for which there is the most demand for Medical Science Liaisons: oncology/hematology, rare diseases, and neurology.
- Equity is increasingly important to Medical Affairs candidates. Candidates desire stock options or restricted stock units (RSU) at sign-on or options at sign-on and RSUs as a reward for performance or time served.
- Resumes are heavily scrutinized. If a resume does not list a breadth and depth of experience, it is not considered. If a resume is full of errors, it is not considered. Medical Affairs professionals must be excellent communicators. A resume must reflect expertise as well as a high-level of writing aptitude.
Medical Affairs Staffing Trends We’ve Noticed in Early 2020:
- The search for and hiring of Medical Affairs professionals has not slowed, especially as need is growing in device and diagnostics. The influx of global biotechnology companies to the US has also created a need.
- Candidates have more choices, including employers, territories, therapeutic areas, salaries, options, etc.
- There are more mergers and acquisitions and reorganizations, especially amongst large life sciences companies. This activity can impact the staffing of Medical Affairs teams.
- Companies must be prepared to offer competitive salaries and move quickly in order to secure highly qualified candidates.