At a recent information day in York, we heard from Dr Jing Shen, a Health Economist at the Institute of Health & Society at Newcastle University. Apparently, health economists are in great demand so if you have a background in economics and have good quantitative and writing skills, the ability to think critically and multi-task to deadlines alongside good interpersonal and networking skills then investigate becoming a health economist via The Economics Network www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/health/students/careers. There’s information about working in academia, the NHS and other government bodies as well as in the pharmaceutical and consultancy industries.
You’ll need to undertake a Masters in health economics (Sheffield, York, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Aberdeen offer them) to get into this role and the best advice is to try before you decide so look for summer internships (Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, Aberdeen), usually advertised in March/April. It may be possible to become a health economist by getting work as a research assistant (which requires an MSc in a quantitative subject such as biomedical science or psychology) so you have the opportunity to receive training in health economics, get involved in various research projects and perhaps have the opportunity to proceed to do a PhD.
If dealing with issues relating to efficiency and effectiveness in the production and consumption of health and healthcare isn’t quite your thing but you do enjoy research and writing up your findings, then there are a range of roles in life-science consultancy. At York, we heard from a biological science graduate now working for HERON, which provides support services to pharmaceutical companies during the drug/therapy development lifecycle. As a senior analyst with HERON, Karen undertook a variety of projects including literature reviews of existing clinical trials to help inform the design of new trials, writing manuscripts for journals, and conducting research to determine how much the NHS would be willing to pay for a new drug/therapy. Find out more at: www.heronhealth.com/careers-overview.php
Life science consultancy also includes roles in market research and business advice. The final speaker at York, Rachel, is a life science graduate who now works as a Senior Research Executive at Kantor Health. Her role is based around designing, developing and executing market research on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, health charities and regulatory bodies. Again, this seems like a great opportunity for people who enjoy quantitative and qualitative research as well as presenting the results to clients as part of a business case. For more information see www.kantarhealth.com/careers and www.bhbia.org.uk/recruitment/careersinbusinessintelligence.aspx
Both Rachel and Karen had never set out to be a ‘life science’ consultant when they graduated but had been attracted by the chance to combine their research experience at university with an interest in people’s health and healthcare. Sometimes, it can be a good idea to try something a bit different when it comes to your career.