Outside of the typical reasons people get fired (ie., cheat on your expenses, falsify information on an application, etc.), there are five surefire ways that you can get fired as an MSL.
1. Don’t know your science.
If you don’t know the data, the value you bring to HCPs is minimal. Let’s face it, you’re the face of the company. If you make a bad first impression, it can be tough to bounce back. But it also causes a loss of confidence by your cross-functional colleagues (regulatory, sales, etc.) if they can’t rely on the ‘so-called’ subject matter experts.
2. Lie about your KTL/KOL interactions.
I once managed an MSL who flat out lied about seeing certain KOLs. They had never actually seen these KOLs, but claimed they did. Sure enough, we eventually ran into these KOLs and it was apparent, they’d never interacted. We all know access is difficult, but use common sense and do the right thing.
3. Can’t balance the firewall properly.
We know that a firewall exists between medical and sales. But I’ve seen cases where MSLs are outright demeaning to sales colleagues. Don’t do it. Remember, the sales & marketing teams generate revenue and help the company grow. Outside of it being just rude to do so, having too much of a firewall can alienate your cross-functional partners and make it difficult to coordinate effectively with KOLs/KTLs.
4. Poor presentation skills.
As an MSL, being an effective presenter is key. You are often asked to present complex information to a wide variety of audiences. One negative presentation can strike a chord of insecurity about your abilities in your manager’s eyes.
5. Clueless about what the rest of medical affairs does and doesn’t do.
Don’t be too compartmentalized in what you do. Be sure to understand ALL of medical affairs (pubs planning, medical information, medical strategy, etc.). You will work with these colleagues closely. Broaden your skills, sharpen your knowledge and keep learning. Otherwise, it could mean a short-lived career.