The Canadian Experience - A just pre-requisite?
Although legally inappropriate to state, we have in one way or another been told that we don't have Canadian experience that is relevant to the job. I used to get as frustrated as you probably do and didn't understand how can working as a Medical Advisor/Manager in the pharmaceutical industry be different in Canada. Didn't my experience of over 7 years (at the time) matter?
However, once I got the opportunity I understood what they meant and yes I truly didn't appreciate what was meant by the "Canadian experience"! There are many aspects to consider here:
Healthcare environment: I always say working in Canada is like working 6 different countries. Each province is different especially when it comes to the reimbursement environment. At the end of the day everything we do is to support patients and their access to life changing medications. Understanding the reimbursement landscape and what data matters and how to communicate that data is vital to the success of our role in Medical Affairs. This is not something that you can just google or read about so yes in this case some Canadian experience matters! Even if you are aspiring for a role in Medical Affairs its valuable to network with professionals from Market Access to understand how the medical team supports them and what do they consider in an ideal medical partner.
Regulations on interactions: Each country has its own standards of how we interact with the external KOLs, HCPs and other stakeholders. Conducting advisory boards or how we develop educational programs in principal remain the same but certain logistics and regulations are different and it is important to be aware of them to stay compliant. The liability is much higher if you cross lines and everyone involved is responsible for the reputation of the company you work for. Educate yourself through the following resources:
Promotional literature: The Medical Affairs team has a very important role in ensuring that the promotional content is accurate, fair and balanced. What that means is that only data in the product monograph which is approved by Health Canada can be used for promotional purposes. You cannot pick any published data and add a claim to the promotional content. In most countries, particularly in the east, the marketing/commercial team will develop the promotional content/campaign and will have it reviewed and approved internally by the medical, regulatory, legal teams etc. to approve before sharing externally. In Canada we have to add one more layer to that called "The Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board (PAAB)". PAAB works to protect Canadians by ensuring that healthcare product advertising meets the regulatory, scientific, therapeutic, and ethical standards outlined in the Code of Advertising Acceptance. Read more on https://www.paab.ca/
Work culture: The answer is in the word "culture". Every culture, be it the work place or not is different in every country and even in every industry. It's up to us how well we adapt or not. The question is how do you learn about a company's culture without being employed by the company. No one knows more about the company culture than the people who work there. That's why I keep stressing the fact that networking is one of the most important aspects you need to focus on while looking for a job. Other ways of knowing about the culture and values is by reviewing the company website. Look for things like their involvement in patient support programs, talent retention, promotion of diversity , inclusion and belonging etc.
The most important thing to remember is to be humble and patient. Go with the approach of a learner because no matter how far we may go in our life and careers there is always room for learning something new!
Good Luck Always,