Friday, July 26, 2013
Saturday, July 20, 2013
The past few days have been a very positive experience for me. I finally met someone who has a nursing degree and background. This was very big for me as I was beginning to feel discouraged at why I was even here as it seems like everyone I have met has gone to Pharmacy school, gotten their PhD, or have only worked in pharma. After getting comments like “well we have never had nursing students here” or “so what made you want to work at a pharmaceutical company in nursing school?”, you begin to doubt why you here. The truth is, I wasn’t a part of the decision to send my application here, and while I am extremely thankful and feel blessed to be working at Novo, I was not part of that election process. Nevertheless, regardless of what some employees have told me, I am here to get another prospective on patient care, and see a different opportunity of where I use my clinical, personal, and nursing experiences in the future.
The first Novo Competency is that the company puts the patient’s first in all that they do. I think this is an imperative quality. Everyone at this company from the executive office, to medical writing, to customer care, IT support, and the people who work in the café, are all here to help in the production of drugs that ultimately benefits the patients. If you want to work in the pharma world, I am learning that you have to pick just where you want to work within this large assembly chain to approve, manufacture, sale, and review the drug. Unfortunately, I think it is far too easy at this company to forget about the patients and to get in your specific bubble of your place within the assembly chain.
After about 4 weeks here I can say that as much as I love the people that work in the medical writing department within SSC, I don’t really have any interest in working here later. I like to write don’t get me wrong, it’s just that it doesn’t make my face light up when I talk about it. I think also that since they don’t have any trials for me to help write up, I haven’t gotten to experience the writing process for myself. Because of this, I have been trying hard to see other areas of the company as there are thousands of employees here that all do different jobs. I have shadowed with the Customer Call Center and Product Safety this week where I met people with clinical backgrounds, and I have a new view on the pharma world. As I sit in the medical writing floor, about as far away from patient contact as you can get, just 3 floors below me, there are people at the call center directly talking with patients calling with shaking voices worried that their product is broken and crying because they can’t get their insulin to inject. I told the employee I was shadowing in the call center that she was like a hero for these people helping them with their product, and she kind of laughed and said she had never looked at her job that way. But it’s true, as a patient who has called my insulin pump company many times infuriated and feeling disgusting due to high blood sugars, I know how great the call center people can make the people at the other end of the phone line feel. I think that having this interaction with customers would make me feel like I had made a difference in their health and would be satisfying for me.
I am glad that I am working here because I feel like many college students get internships that they hope will turn into immediate jobs right out of college. However, I am learning that this experience is not what I want to do right after college, but possibly 25 years down the road I will want to. I shouldn’t work here next year because I need to get that experience “out in the field” to not only to make myself more marketable as an employee, but to increase my knowledge and confidence interacting with patients. However, talking with people here who have worked the 12 hour shift hospital life for a while, they describe feeling blessed to be working a 9-5 life at a company with such great benefits so they can have their time with their family. It’s important to realize the different lifestyles that a nurse can have and even though I might be able to tolerate a three 12 hour shift/ week life for a few years out of college, who knows if I could maintain that life with a family of my own. I don’t know now, but it’s good I’m getting a snip-it of a different type of work life. I learned more about the incredible benefits that this company offers full time employees and it taught me about how companies should pride themselves of employee recognition (I’m talking about Apple TVs for Christmas gift, sleepover Christmas ball in Philadelphia, 4 week paid vacation, annual bonus, gift card recognition, 5 year gift, health insurance, the list goes on). If the employees are happy, they will do their job in the end benefit the patients. It’s an important lesson to learn that every company or institution treats their employees differently and if I am so lucky in the future to be deciding between 2 different companies or institutions for jobs, then I will be sure to remember my time here at Novo and learning about how well they treat their employees.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Today I had lunch with a manager in my department and I found myself learning about really important skills that I can take with me wherever I go professionally. I got the sense that he was trying to teach me lessons through his mistakes, something that I do frequently to younger girls on my squash team and in nursing, there’s no better way to learn. Working within a corporate organization is like learning a new language, there is a science to it, it takes experience and time to master, and each person learns it differently and progresses at their own pace.
- Public Speaking
I think I am just beginning to grasp how important this skill is to have in life. Being able to confidently persuade your audience on what you are speaking about is a talent and something that can provide increased job opportunities. It is important to use any opportunity you have to practice such skills such at a small meeting where your boss is there—maybe you do such a great job presenting material internally that when it is time for the presentation to the VP, boss lady remembers your presentation at the small meeting earlier in the month, and you get the job. Or just putting pictures on the slides so the audience is forced to look at the presenter rather than squinting at the tables and graphs. Or standing to the left of the screen so the audience looks at you then follows the natural path of their eye left to right on the screen. I’m making it a goal to practice my public speaking whenever I can. Volunteering to give presentations at school and finding courses offered at school are where I will start.
- “Do what you dig”
It’s simple. Do what you like in life. Don’t work your life away. He told me stories about people he used to work within the banking world where he thought they were in the late 50’s based upon the wrinkles and grey hair, only to learn that they were in their early 30’s. Find the balance between wanting a family and also furthering your career aspirations. Take your maternity time and don’t feel guilty about it, you’ll be paying for childcare while you work so you might as well spend that time with your baby. Try and get paternity leave too, more people at home to help. Don’t solely focus on your career because then you will be 45, sick of work and wanting to start a family and realizing it’s too late.
- Keep your private life private
I need to start thinking of myself as a product, something I have to market. When I’m at work, I am trying to do my best to market myself as the competent worker that I am. Therefore, what I do after I leave the door at 5pm stays with me, and me only. I think this is a very interesting idea that I hadn’t thought much about. Say hypothetically, that I tell my cubicle friend when she asked me about my weekend that I went to a concert, found some new drugs a dude was giving out, tried them, went gambling, then hitchhiked all the way to California, but hey, made it back for work on Monday! Now when I’m giving a presentation on work that we are doing, I am suddenly the crazy drug hitchhiker concert lady instead of the competent worker. And maybe that information that I told in secret to a coworker friend suddenly comes out months later out of context, suddenly my career is in jeopardy. He told me that he has gotten lots of facebook requests from novo employees, but he ignores them all as his private life is separate from work. It’s a good lesson for everyone to remember especially the way social media is driving the world. He also discussed that you don’t have to be buddy buddy with everyone that you work with, but “you get paid to get along with everyone”.
I didn’t ask for any of the stories that helped to create these lessons, but I was thankful for him sharing. I spend so much of my time at school trying to just learn the ropes of the university and hospital setting, that I haven’t even thought of the ropes in the corporate, job seeking world and after this lunch I am more aware of all the lessons that are out there, and I am sure that I will learn my fair share the hard way as well.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Monday, July 8, 2013
It was astonishing to me that employees of this company were not aware of concepts such as gestational diabetes or insulin pump therapy or the differing types of people that live with the 3 main types of diabetes. It showed me that diabetes education is needed more than I think it is. It’s made me think today that I take my 18 years of growing knowledge for granted. That I know a lot more than I think I do even though I’m learning I need to learn more. I found myself taking notes on concepts I already knew, but writing them down in the presenter’s words—as I am trying to work on my medical vocabulary here. If I want to educate others later on down the road, I need to have the basic vocab so people believe what I am saying, and I need to be able to say it with confidence so my patients believe me. So I’m learning different ways to say the same thing. “My body doesn’t all that it needs to digest my food” is basically trying to say as “Due to an autoimmune deficiency in my body, my pancreas lacks the ability to secrete insulin, a hormone, that is needed to bind to receptors in the bloodstream to get glucose out and into the cells to prevent a buildup of glucose and maintain stable blood sugars.” The later sounds a bit better, so I’m practicing when people ask me about my diabetes, to respond in an educated manner.
I even got to do some teaching today, sharing my experiences using the Novo Flex Pen with the safe, one time use needles that once inserted into the patient are safely closed automatically. My trouble with using this pen on patients in the hospital is that as the care provider, you are unable to determine if the needle has gone through the skin,as it is covered by a plastic safety cover, so I found myself asking patients, “ Did you feel that?” to ensure I had administered the medication. That would be absolutely horrible if you just pushed the button thinking the injection was administered, but the needle had not gone through. It was comforting that others had this same worry and it was interesting to discuss.
At one point, the presenter discussed why the Novo twist off needle for only Novo pens was not being promoted by the company anymore and other the regular needle made to fit any company’s product was the main product to promote. Apparently, the company was losing money while promoting due to the popularity of the former product even though this product was in fact safer as it securely fastens on and ensures the patient of so by a loud click in place preventing wobbly needles and fear that the medication was not administered. It bummed me out to hear “because we were losing money”. I haven’t taken enough business classes to fully appreciate the money making side of companies… to me, it’s all about patient care, and if the twist off needle is the safest, I want you to tell me so regardless if your company doesn’t make an extra couple million. I guess this is why I should just stay at the bedside and not in aim to sit in a pantsuit behind a CEO desk.
I also enjoyed learning more about NovoSeven, Novo’s drug to treat Hemophilia in patient’s that have clotting disorders. Basically the drug works to activate the extrinsic pathway clotting cascade at Factor 7 to help the cascade in Factor 8 or 9 depending on the type of Hemophilia that is needed to create a fibrin plug in the bloodstream to stop bleeding, something that these patients have an inability to do.
I got to get hands on experience with Novo’s products today, and it exposed me to a different side of the company. I know that not everyone in this company works behind computers all day staring at Clinical Trial Reports and making Subject ID bookmarks, so it was uplifting to know that there are people who are educating others on why this company exists- to make these products to change patient’s lives. At the end of the day, that is why everyone here comes to work. I was surprised with the lack of knowledge in the company’s products and the conditions they are used to treat among the employees I was with and wish that they would do basic training to ensure a companywide competency in understanding.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
This week I have gotten a chance to think about different areas of Novo that I would like to learn more about, as there are many many departments with different responsibilities. One of these areas is the Call Center where Novo employers receive phone calls from patients, physicians, nurses who are all taking or providing the company’s drug. They might be calling for various reasons including adverse effects, dosage questions, administration questions, etc. I am excited to see how the employee responds to these questions as there are tight protocols of what people can and can’t say regarding the drug to help prohibit off-labeling. This connects to another department called Safety where their name objective is to ensure that patients remain safe and healthy throughout trials as well as using the drug. Nurses are also seen in this area as well, but it is my impression that they only have contact with the investigators during trials and not directly the patients.
Working here is causing me to think about patients and what patients mean to me as a future health care provider. Questions I have begun to ask myself here are what type of patient do I see myself thriving with? The one who is newly diagnosed coming in wetting the bed and screaming at the prospect of having to check blood sugars? The patient who is coming in routinely to a clinic after 10 years of having diabetes and deciding that they just can’t do it anymore and are rebelling from their condition? Or the patient who I don’t know, Subject ID xxxx, who is risking their health to try a new drug to potentially make leaps and bounds for future drug technology and therefore many other patients? I didn’t realize that drug companies, especially the Strategic Scientific Communications department I am in really don’t have much interaction with patients. I’m glad I’m getting this experience now, away from the patient, to see that I probably like being with the patient more. There is something about being able to look into a newly diagnosed child and say, “hey look, I take insulin too, and I’m doing just great and we are going to get you feeling a lot better” that might make me feel more fulfilled than thinking of these people as mere numbers. But anyways, these are just wheel churning daydreaming thoughts that I randomly think about as the corporate life day goes on.
Working here has also made me learn more and appreciate Type 2 Diabetes. I used to detest it. Honestly, because lots of people would assume that I have it, so I usually get immediately territorial and judgmental of them and their ignorance and lack of knowledge. Therefore, I developed this preconceived notion of all T2D people as the ones who make me have to defend myself. When you live with type 1 sometimes it’s very easy to live with the mindset that type 1 is the only type of diabetes that exists. However, working here has reminded me that type 2 actually encompasses about 95% of all people living with diabetes which means that there is only an astonishingly low 5% living with type 1. So now I feel like a hypocrite because as much as I blame others for not knowing a clue about type 1, I’ve realized I don’t know that much about type 2. The key difference between the two types of diabetes is that in type 1 the only way to treat it is by administering insulin, but in type 2 you can use multiple drugs that all have different mechanisms of action such as sulfonylureas such as metformin to help release insulin from beta cells or alpha-glucosidase inhibitors that work to slow down the digestion of glucose and therefore lower blood sugars. And then there’s of course, Victoza, made by Novo that acts as a human glucagon- like peptide that works to secrete insulin when blood sugars are only elevated to reduce low blood sugars and also doubles to increase meal satiety and causing weight reduction. As there are many more ways to reach a patient with type 2, there are more drugs, more competition for drug companies, but then more options for patients. As other lifestyle and socioeconomic influences are all incorporated into life with type 2 diabetes, this can pose to be very convenient for patients. Sometimes I feel like I can barely get a grasp on technology advances to therapy in type 1, so incorporating type 2 into that as well has been overwhelming, but it’s important to stay educated, informed, and considerate of different patients and therapies.