Leadership in Medical Affairs Course: Perspectives, Highlights, & Lessons Learned
When we started planning for a “Leadership Module in Medical Affairs,” we had clear the need and demand to help these healthcare professionals earn their right to sit at the decision-making table. Learning and improving one’s leadership skills has transformed from optional to mandatory at all professional career levels in Medical Affairs. Creating a course for scientists, asked for content anchored on fundamental principles of leadership proven by research. Furthermore, we sought the content to contain the tried and true applied to the realities of Medical Affairs and newer concepts in leadership, like Story Telling and Resilience -who knew this would become so relevant in pandemic times!
Less clear was our ability to deliver a meaningful learning experience within the limitations of online learning. Could we replace the experience of workshop and exercises through a screen with students from all continents connected to it? Could we bring theoretic principles to a relevant and practical level? Could we make the content become behaviors to be practiced by students and valued by their teams?
Some of these answers, significantly the last one will take some time to reveal, but what is clear is that we were able to deliver an impressive course in six weeks. In their words, the course proved useful to students in all levels of seniority (from MSLs and individual contributors to members of leadership teams).
Having on-board faculty with expertise in leadership and working experience in Pharma was the key to success. Creating the right learning experience while virtual required a high level of touch and some new techniques on the lectures and webinars to facilitate engagement, but yes, it could be done! Our students were highly motivated, with nearly complete attendance to webinars and delivery of assignments.
For many, it was the most comprehensive approach to learning about leadership they have had. Many of the students understood the reasons behind their leadership challenges for the first time. The course gave them the information and questions for reflection needed to understand their leadership and resilience profiles. Moreover, using what they learned of their thinking styles and different leadership techniques to manage their daily work challenges better. The final assignment, creating an individual leadership plan, put it all together and created the perfect way to evaluate learning and provided a plan for students to start practicing right away in their daily routines and a foundation for their future development.
We will follow our students through time to see how the plan became a reality. On a personal note, it has been a privilege to contribute our part to developing leaders better enabled for success in their careers and personal lives. We are very much looking forward to the new cohort in October this year.
Ana Beatriz Salgado, MD