Coming from a career where I worked in a variety of industries— from automotive to consumer electronics to medical device technology— I learned firsthand that healthcare is by far one of the most complex spaces to work in. Not only are decisions are made based on economic, financial and clinical factors, but life sciences and healthcare are also driven by ever-evolving regulations that vary by geography. All the while, it’s an incredibly sensitive and important area that affects each and every one of our lives. Needless to say, there’s a steep learning curve in transitioning to the healthcare industry from a different sector because with so much changing, it can be hard to keep up with the latest developments.
As a full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) student at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, my involvement in the PLUS Life Sciences Academy has connected me with a wide array of professionals, topics and companies in healthcare. It has served as an excellent launch pad to lead into my Commercial Leadership Development MBA Internship at Baxter International. After completing my first year of the academy, I felt better prepared for my internship, and the program insights have served me well in my summer position. Here are some steps that have helped me, and that you can take to keep up with the life sciences and healthcare industries:
1. Leverage LinkedIn and Events to Explore Healthcare
One of the fastest ways to learn about the industry is by getting involved in local healthcare events and talking to the people that work in it. Stepping out of your daily routine to connect with new people helps you learn about how the different parts of healthcare operate, and it can help you decide what direction you may want to go— from pharmaceuticals to health insurance, medical device, services, electronic health records, and more.
Leverage LinkedIn, career centers at your university, or healthcare meetups and conferences to network with alumni and professionals in a segment and/or company of interest. Follow some of the companies you want to learn more about so their latest announcements show up in your feed. There are dozens of healthcare-focused professional associations and groups on LinkedIn that you can join to connect with professionals in the industry and learn about the latest hot topics. The Center for the Business of Life Sciences has a LinkedIn group that posts recent healthcare news that helps me keep up with changes.
Setting up coffee chats or lunches with employees in various departments and functions (even if they aren’t roles that you are exactly aiming for) is a great way to learn about the different business units and happenings at a company. People are usually happy to talk to others that show interest in their work and industry— be curious and ask good questions! Talking to people in the industry can give you an alternate perspective that may not be in online articles or company pages. You can quickly learn about challenges, culture, competitive landscapes, tips and more.
Pay attention to how roles are affected from different healthcare company to company. For example, marketing at a pharmaceutical company is vastly different than at a medical device company or health records software company. At the end of a conversation, don’t forget to offer a way to return the favor and see if they could connect you with others who can also offer valuable insights.
2. Use Healthcare Glossaries and Videos to Learn the Lingo
This one’s especially important if you’re new to healthcare. Healthcare is quite technical, and you may be expected to know the lingo regardless of whether you are in a scientific, technical or clinical role or not. Healthcare companies want engaged employees that understand the product, customer, and industry, even if the employees are on the business side.
When reading up on content in your area of interest, make note of and look up the unfamiliar terms. I especially find it useful to keep a working glossary of acronyms and technical terms to refer to. The sooner you start learning the latest and the lingo, the more you can have to talk about while networking.
Utilize university or company libraries or other online resources such as the New England Journal of Medicine to find research papers defining terms. Healthcare.gov has a great glossary of terms as well. Educational videos on the Internet can help you visualize and gain a more in-depth understanding of terms and systems. Armando Hasudungan, MedCram, and Osmosis all have video libraries with succinct explanations of various medical topics.
3. Subscribe to Various News Channels to Help You Do Research
Fortunately, there’s an abundance of channels to receive healthcare industry news— you just have to find the ones that fit your routine and have the content you’re looking for so that when you choose to subscribe, you don’t feel overwhelmed because you only focus on specific channels. Even if you spend 15 minutes a day reading a few of the latest articles, you will be one step ahead!
- There are free medical news mobile applications available to help you stay on top of the news such as Medscape MedPulse News.
- You can bookmark news pages for specific topics of interest such as MassDevice for medical device news or FiercePharma for pharmaceutical news.
- It’s likely that some of the major news outlets you already follow have pages set aside for the healthcare news! Check out pages by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
- Healthcare is a hotbed of innovation, so it’s good to keep an eye out for potential disruptors in the industry. Newsletters, such as Forbes’ Innovation Rx, exclusively focus on the latest developments in medicine and health. PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights’ Healthcare MoneyTree Report gives quarterly reports on US venture capital funding for startups and small businesses in healthcare— note that these funds are going to companies with the greatest potential to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare.
- Major consulting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey, Bain & Company and others have insight pages with high-level overviews and trends in healthcare.
- Set up Google Alerts for healthcare topics of interest to be delivered directly to your email inbox! You can specify search phrases for your Google Alert. For example, using “pharmaceutical marketing,” “healthcare artificial intelligence,” “diabetes study,” “home health software,” etc.
- Follow relevant hashtags (#healthcare, #healthIT, #FDA, etc.) on your social media platform of choice to get industry updates in your feed.
The healthcare industry is as complicated and dynamic as it is rewarding to work in. There are countless ways to keep up with this industry and these are just a handful of my suggestions. I’d enjoy hearing what tips have helped you succeed in learning the life sciences and healthcare industries. Feel free to add your tips in the comments below!