Dr Mona Taouk – Medical Science Liaison
Posted October 20, 2017, by Jenny Sakr
Psychology student turned Medical Science Liaison, Mona, never even knew her role existed until she met with a recruiter after graduating. She's now with Lundbeck Australia, a pharmaceutical group specialising in brain diseases, and has the opportunity to work alongside "incredible professionals" and some of Australia's best in mental health.
Read how Mona's career story quickly evolved...
How long have you been in psychology?
I began studying psychology in 2002 as undergraduate and then completed honours in psychology. After that, my career path changed as I moved into research and completed a PhD. Although there are some aspects of psychology in my research and current work, I am no longer technically working in Psychology. I work in the pharmaceutical industry (in medical affairs which is the non-promotional area of the company).
What did you study to get into psychology?
Bachelor in Psychology and Management/Marketing (Monash University)
Bachelor of Social Science (Hons) (Bond University)
Doctor of Philosophy (School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales)
What was your first job?
The usual retail jobs and then did some tutoring during my postgraduate study years.
When did you first know you wanted to be in the psychology field?
When I studied Psychology in year 11 I thought working as a psychologist may be fulfilling and interesting. However, I didn’t know that the current role I am in existed until I saw a recruiter who opened my eyes to the fascinating world of pharmaceuticals.
Explain a typical day at work
As a Medical Science Liaison supporting Lundbeck’s psychiatry portfolio, my role is primarily to contribute to medical education initiatives, organising advisory boards for any new medications, and keeping abreast of the scientific data in the field through attendance and participation in various domestic and international conferences.
I really feel lucky that I get to work with some of the best researchers, mental health nurses, mental health pharmacists, and psychiatrists in Australia with the overall goal of improving outcomes for patients with psychiatric disorders. Some days I am flying into unique parts of Australia to present to multidisciplinary teams on a newly launched product, or to support continued medical education initiatives that Lundbeck is proud to contribute to. But some of my days I must admit are simply spent behind a desk completing administrative duties and being an email warrior.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in this career?
I can’t recall one specific interesting thing; however, I generally find working with psychiatrists and hearing their stories very interesting. Understanding some of the unique patient journeys through the eyes of their multidisciplinary support team is a fascinating part of the job for me. Also, the art and science of psychiatry is exciting because in a way the brain is the ‘final frontier’; we may know more about space than we know about the human brain, so a breakthrough in psychiatry feels so imminent. That definitely keeps me interested.
Name the best and worst parts of your job
The best parts are working with incredible professionals both within the company and externally, contributing to improved patient outcomes, and the travel.
The worst part interestingly can also be the travel and disruption to daily routine. Especially when the travel is to remote places and you have no one to talk to after a day’s work. Lonely!
What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?
I gave myself this tip! - Never neglect to perfect your work/life balance. You are more valuable to your employer (and everyone else including yourself) when you are maintaining your health and sanity. Taking frequent walking breaks if you are in the office all day, and going outside will save you a world of hurt in the long run.
What do you wish someone had told you before starting in your field?
I thought I was destined for the difficult and unpredictable life of an aspiring academic/researcher after I completed my PhD so there were quite a few sleepless nights and tears before I was fortunate enough to find this job! So I wish someone had told me sooner that people like me could work in the pharmaceutical industry and that it is such an excellent industry to be part of.
Name a career highlight
I found it very fulfilling to have my own research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry this year, and to present at the RANZCP conference. This was a career highlight as my research was recognised alongside that of the researchers and psychiatrists whom I admire and work with every day. I felt proud of this achievement.
What’s next for you?
I am extremely happy working in this role and working for Lundbeck, so I hope to further my career when the appropriate opportunity arises.
Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.