As I was finishing up my final quarter at Ohio University, my job search kicked into high gear and I was determined to find a career before graduation. With a soon-to-be-obtained journalism degree and an academic course load focused on public relations, I was searching for a PR position at a university, hospital, firm, nonprofit, or sports team. Little did I expect that my hours of job searching would bring me to continuing medical education. A family friend reached out to me a couple months before graduation about a job opportunity at her company, CME Outfitters, LLC, where I am currently employed. CMEO needed a communications specialist. I said, “I’ll take it! Now, what’s CME?”
That’s how my CME journey began. At age 23, 18 months out of college, I have dived full force into the world of commercial support, needs assessments, accreditation, industry-supported symposia, adult learning, performance improvement CME, Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (), requests for proposals, therapeutic areas—as you know, the list goes on. Before June 2011, I hadn’t the slightest clue what CME was, and here I am today, compiling outcomes reports, meeting with commercial supporters, and writing CME copy for press releases and campaigns. Learning about the world of CME has been a whirlwind experience.
Of all the things I have learned, the piece that still presents the largest challenge for me is the “M” in CME—medical. I consider myself to be right-brained: a communicator. Having minimal science-focused study under my belt and medical knowledge based solely on informal conversations, trying to understand therapeutic areas, needs data, drug phases, compounds, and disease states is quite a challenge. During my first six months in CME, I made an effort to read about the “M” in my spare time. Reading CME journals, magazines, and online articles was helpful, as was doing research on my company’s Web site, competitors’ sites, and pharmaceutical sites.
But even better than reading, I learned in the second six months that experience is what helps me understand this industry the best. Talking with peers, attending industry meetings, working on proposals, and meeting with educational partners and stakeholders is what gives me the most knowledge. A mentor advised me that the best approach to take when it comes to the science side of CME is to learn a little bit about a lot of things. I have found my co-workers to be excellent resources and I am confident that little by little I will get to a lot.
I truly could not be happier that I chose CME to kick-off my career. The industry is fascinating and the overall impact of improving patient care is one to be proud of and one that I have grown passionate about. It is my belief that the people you surround yourself with have the greatest impact on your outlook toward your career. I love the people I work with and I have met so many awe-inspiring people while on my CME journey. They have led me to conclude that the CME industry and profession as a whole is just like its people: intelligent and dedicated.
Haley Hoffman is a communications specialist with CME Outfitters, LLC. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Because most of the people reading this didn’t start out to be CME professionals or life sciences meeting managers, we thought it would be interesting to ask how you ended up in your chosen profession. This is the first in an occasional series: Contact Editor Sue Pelletier at email@example.com if you have a career story to share!