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Nurses in Medical Affairs? - Fantastic article from ACMA




INTRODUCTION Representing one of the most significant segments of healthcare workers, nurses play a pivotal role in turning the tide of healthcare for the better. Nurses serve as essential members of healthcare teams in various settings within society, ultimately abiding by a mission to treat patients with compassion and respect and fulfilling their duty to provide patients with the care to achieve the best outcomes for their health. However, this mission is not one to be limited or confined, as there are endless opportunities for nurses to grow. Within the current state of nursing in the United States, the turnover rate increased in 2021 due to reasons stemming from salary instability, scheduling flexibility, and lack of career advancement. However, there are endless opportunities within the healthcare field to change these narratives. More specifically, these opportunities can be accessible upon transitioning into medical affairs within the life sciences industry. In turn, this transition can allow nurses to significantly impact patient care by utilizing their clinical knowledge, critical thinking, and detailed & regimented skilled approach to care.

REASONS WHY NURSES TRANSITION

A nurse may look to transition for many reasons. Some of the main reasons why a nurse may look to transition into the life sciences industry of healthcare include: 1. Burnout or Late Career Physical Limitations: Frequently, nurses may experience burnout due to staffing limitations. Patient acuity in understaffed working conditions can alter the ability to perform and work efficiently when providing patient care. Additionally, this occupation can take an emotional toll on many individuals who can no longer have the desire to tolerate the difficulty of working with individuals whose health is compromised in some way. Furthermore, nurses in the latter of their careers can also have physical limitations that may prevent them from providing optimal patient care in various clinical settings. 2. Career Progression: This involves the desire of many nurses to experience change while also expanding their healthcare skills and knowledge in a non-clinical setting. Additionally, nurses are natural critical thinkers. Nurses can think critically while making decisions and act efficiently and effectively to provide optimal patient care. 3. Patient-Centered Focused Approach to Care: The life sciences industry's primary focus is the patients; similarly, nurses have the same primary focus. A nurse can inherently understand the patient's needs, which would be critical to success within numerous medical affairs roles.

ROLES AND OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE Within medical affairs and the life sciences industry, there are many roles available that would be suitable for nurses transitioning into this healthcare segment. Various opportunities can be found under different branches of the life sciences industry stemming from medical affairs, research & development, commercial, and corporate:

1. Medical Writing: Under the medical affairs umbrella, medical writing consists of an individual who can collaborate with other healthcare team members to provide a written document comprising various clinical information in different formats. The role that nurses would play within this life science opportunity is their involvement in clinical documentation/trial reports, medical manuscripts for publication, and internal/external scientific presentation slide sets. Nurses attribute the skills of being knowledgeable about scientific & medical terminology, health literacy, attention to detail, and organization skills that would allow them to excel in this role.

2. Medical Information: Medical Information is another domain under the medical affairs umbrella. This opportunity involves the accessibility to handle incoming requests for medical information by various forms of contact. The life sciences industry and medical affairs is dedicated to providing accurate and precise medical information. Having a healthcare professional like a nurse utilize their clinical background is crucial in relaying this information to those seeking clarification or those wanting to be educated. Nurses are equipped with the skills of being active listeners, creative, health literate, and efficient communicators, which would help them succeed in medical information.

3. Medical Science Liaison (MSL): A medical science liaison, or MSL, is a position within medical affairs that deals with establishing relationships with various scientific and key opinion leaders about accurate medical information for a product to ensure its proper use. A nurse would transition to this role because their background of clinical knowledge and firsthand clinical experience can help better suit them to speak to key opinion leaders about a desired product. Nurses have solid relationship-building skills that are evident between patients, and they can use those skills to build relationships with other individuals as an MSL.

4. Pharmacovigilance/Product Safety: Under the segment of research & development within the life sciences industry, pharmacovigilance and product safety is another opportunity that nurses can transition to. This segment deals with the development and testing of new medications and the effects of monitoring patients after the administration of a new drug to evaluate their therapeutic effects or adverse reactions. Nurses would excel if they were to transition into this role due to their clinical experience in handling and administering various medications. They would be equipped to handle any adverse effects and also provide insights and knowledge from their past clinical experiences of the drug's therapeutic effectiveness upon administration.

5. Nurse Educators: Under the commercial umbrella of the life sciences industry, transitioning from the clinical direct patient care setting to a nurse education setting is another common opportunity amongst many nurses. Frequently nurses may find themselves becoming some of the best educators for patients, other healthcare professionals, and even future nurses. Specifically, within the life sciences, a nurse can use their communication skills and understanding of health literacy principles to be efficient educators for various members of the healthcare field regarding the appropriate use of products, training methods, and workflow adjustments to provide optimal patient care.

6. Patient Engagement: Under the corporate sector of the life sciences industry, patient engagement is another transitional opportunity for nurses. The focal point of a nurse's role is to keep the patient at the center, and through this role, a nurse can shed light on the patient's perspective. They can represent the patient in various life science company research, support, and interaction with patient advocacy groups. A nurse uses their natural skills of empathy, clear communication, and cross-functional collaboration to highlight the focus on the patient's needs.

ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITY Additionally, nurses can obtain certification under the CNMAP Program. This is the Certified Nurse Medical Affairs Professional Program that will work towards helping nurses who transition into the life sciences industry under medical affairs establish a pathway to gaining certification and set an industry standard for nurses who desire to obtain various roles and opportunities that are available. This program will allow nurses to achieve professional credentialing credits and award nursing CEUs through an AANC approved accreditation organization.

CONCLUSION In conclusion, transitioning from nursing to medical affairs presents various opportunities to have a long-lasting effect on healthcare beyond the clinical setting. Throughout these multiple opportunities within the life sciences industry, these positions can help bridge the gap between medical affairs and real-world application, as nurses can contribute to providing a remarkable combination of clinical knowledge, empathy, and communication abilities. As a result, the life sciences industry continues to evolve, and more and more positions within healthcare are growing alongside the industry. Included in this evolvement, nurses can significantly contribute to medical advancement while also having many opportunities to begin a fulfilling new career path in the life sciences industry that continues to change healthcare for the better.

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