From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

Sinead Monaghan, Medical Science Liaison, Sanofi

I graduated with a master’s degree in pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast.I undertook my pre-registration year in a community pharmacy chain in Northern Ireland. I was employed as a pharmacist manager with the same company post pre-registration year. I spent a further four years as a community pharmacist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this role, especially being a pharmacist tutor. This very much sparked my interest in training others. I had always been curious about alternative pharmacist roles, but felt my knowledge of career paths was limited.

When I thought about industry I just pictured laboratory work and didn’t realise the vast career paths available to pharmacists. It was a family member that suggested venturing industry opportunities. This family member had worked in industry for many years and was aware of opportunities for pharmacists. I began researching medical roles and shortly came across the Medical science liaison (MSL) role.

I met with an MSL who lived and worked in Northern Ireland to gather information on the role. I soon realised that it would a great opportunity for development and sounded like something I would really enjoy and succeed in. After interviewing for a few roles, I was offered an MSL role in a large global pharmaceutical company. I was so excited.

As I was living in Belfast at the time, I had to relocate for my initial role in industry. I spent three wonderful years in Liverpool where I gained a lot of experience working across the English and Welsh healthcare systems. The MSL role allowed me to meet lots of healthcare professionals, learn about new medications and upcoming research, work with various departments in my company, upskill my clinical knowledge and most importantly allowed me to develop my career.

After three years in the role, I knew that industry was the career path for me. However,there was one thing I had always wanted to do before I settled in to the role long term. I took some time out to travel. When I returned eight months later, I was offered a maternity cover MSL role within the company I had left in a different therapy area. Once the maternity cover was finished I interviewed for a permanent role in yet another division within the company.

I was delighted as I was able to return home to Ireland and work there. To date, I have worked in three different therapy areas and across all of the health care systems in the UK and Ireland. This has given me broad clinical experience, broad knowledge of healthcare systems and allowed me to work with health care professionals across many disciplines.My day to day work is extremely rewarding. I am continually learning and meeting so many interesting people along the way. It has been an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a career change.

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