Healthcare Providers & Pharma: Mixing and Matchmaking

How healthcare professionals joining the pharma industry can benefit both – and improve patient care

By Paige Nelson, Head of Sales, Life Science Search 

Over two decades ago, I left my role as a Nurse Practitioner treating oncology patients for a position in the pharmaceutical industry educating oncology nurses and other healthcare providers. At the time, making the move from patient care to the pharmaceutical industry was considered taboo. Undoubtedly, I was nervous, and one colleague even mentioned I was moving to the Dark Side. Yikes!

Some of that taboo still lingers in the medical community, but over the years I’ve spent working in global medical affairs and pharma, it has only become clearer to me that healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the pharmaceutical industry are not opposed – in fact, in many ways they are a match made in heaven. 

The benefits of joining forces are substantial for both groups. When HCPs transfer into pharma roles, they not only strengthen the pharma industry with their expertise and insight but they can reinvigorate their careers as well. And that’s to say nothing of the group that benefits the most – patients. 

Let’s take a closer look.

Fulfilling Crucial Functions in Pharma

While the titles and responsibilities might differ between companies, depending on background and specializations, a healthcare provider’s interest in science, innovation, and continuous learning means they can make significant contributions to Research & Development, Pharmacovigilance, Medical Affairs, Regulatory, and many other areas throughout the commercial pharma industry.

The industry is hungry for the disease-state education healthcare practitioners can offer. Moreover, HCPs, with their first-hand experience and interactions with ever-increasingly informed patients, can enhance pharma in a number of ways, including: 

  1. Keeping companies current on patient experience and expectations;
  2. Helping to define the optimal patient profile, minimizing delays in patient recruitment timelines, and refining medical affairs strategic planning; and
  3. Offering medical perspective in marketing and commercial strategies 

Each of these functions is absolutely crucial to the pharma industry – and they are best fulfilled by those who best understand patients, which are the HCPs who have experience treating and serving them directly. 

Breathing New Life into HCPs

COVID created a perfect storm for overworked and overwhelmed physicians, nurses, and other patient care providers. Burned out by the pandemic, many are looking for alternative career paths, and the pharma industry can offer a chance to refresh and reinvigorate spirits. 

Pharma and Biotech offer providers and specialists a new path and a change in environment, including opportunities for advancement and the ability to follow a traditional work schedule while still being able to impact patients without the intense stresses of direct care. And, HCPs who move to pharma no longer need to worry about on-call duty or being asked into the hospital on holidays! 

More importantly, working for a pharmaceutical company offers an in-depth view of therapeutic options for patients beyond the traditional options or protocols. I like to say I’m a smarter Nurse Practitioner because of my time in the industry learning about available options in a therapeutic class, not only the ones selected in my individual clinical practice.  

I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss direct patient care, but I know I have impacted direct patient care beyond the halls and walls of my practice through my work in the pharma industry. 

Different Industries, One Goal

As a Nurse Practitioner, my goal was to help patients; when I moved to a commercial role, my goal was to help patients; and even in my current role as Head of Sales at Mix Talent, my goal hasn’t changed. I’m here to help patients.

The same is true for any HCP employed in the industry. Helping patients, improving options and therapies, and positively impacting patient care is still the motivation and ultimate goal – and it’s an achievable goal. 

HCPs in pharma are able to tell their story – including the realities of what it is like to work with patients directly – pouring their experience into clinical, medical, and commercial strategies. Their involvement boosts pharma’s understanding of and focus on the patient experience and involvement in the treatment process. 

In the long run, this can help ensure the right medicine is delivered to the right patient at the right time – which is what all of us in the industry want, whether we’re directly or indirectly involved in treating patients in a healthcare facility.

How to Bring Them Together

So if HCPs and pharma are such a good match, what keeps them apart? 

From an HCP perspective, there may be uncertainties around income, whereas from a pharma perspective it might be uncertainties around HCPs’ ability to shift perspective from patient care to business acumen. 

However, the mutual interest between the industry and HCPs, coupled with the mutual benefits of connecting the two, necessitates that the industry finds ways to lower barriers and ease the decision for healthcare providers to transition from the clinic to the office. 

The good news? Mix Talent is full of experienced people (like me!) who specialize in connecting the industry with impactful change-makers. Whether it’s crafting compensation packages and incentive plans or customizing industry-specific coaching and training programs, Mix has the practical expertise and unique insight into how to bridge gaps and make the decision to leave the bedside enticing for physicians and beneficial for pharma organizations. And if you’re an HCP considering a move to pharma, you can contact Mix Talent anytime and we’ll help connect you with an opportunity that’s right for you.

Paige Nelson

Head of Sales,
Life Science Search

As Mix Talent’s Head of Sales, Paige leads the strategy and business development for Executive Search in Pre-Clinical, Clinical, Medical Affairs, Commercial, and other associated Life Science Verticals. She brings 22+ years of Life Sciences, Clinical R&D, Manufacturer Sales, Leadership, and Product Management expertise in various therapeutic areas including immunology, oncology, rare disease, and genetics. In the last 6 years, Paige has honed her skills in Business Development, evolving clinical, medical affairs, and patient solutions for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and working closely with internal subject matter experts and talent acquisition partners to bring unparalleled customer experiences to the clients we serve.

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