Educational Exchange - Pharmaceutical Executive


Educational Exchange
Sales organizations benefit from symbiotic relationships between academic and corporate training partners.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Co-author Michelle Reece is involved in such a partnership as part of the staff of the Certified Medical Representatives (CMR) Institute, a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to advancing the healthcare industry through education. CMR Institute provides certification programs for reps, managers, or management candidates.

CMR Institute offers 22 courses that carry graduate level credit recommendations from ACE; all 42 courses carry upper division baccalaureate credit recommendations. Participants gain valuable knowledge, while physicians actively seek out reps with CMR certification. Often, such certification offers an important incentive for employees seeking advancement, and can provide effective motivation to receive further training within their field.

CMR Institute also maintains an educational alliance with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) that allows CMR Institute graduates to apply credits earned from the certification programs towards a master's degree in Health Sciences or Health Systems. CMR Institute also recently developed alliances with USP and NOVA Southeastern University to offer students significant credit toward an MBA degree.

Partnerships such as these can translate into applicable graduate degrees that are beneficial to all parties—and extremely cost-effective for the participating corporation.

Establishing the Relationship Bringing differing cultures together can sometimes prove challenging. One challenge of corporation-education partnerships is that each organization has its own mission. Academia is focused on the broad development of the learner, while industry focuses more on meeting specific training needs that help to increase the potential of employees and return on investment for the company.

Operational differences also pose potential challenges for the two groups. This may include timeline issues—time to production—emphasis on training versus education, how money is managed, and others. Recommended strategies address issues including project scope and timelines, contract management, and specific deliverables that are ideally identified in a project management plan developed in collaboration with representatives from all participating organizations. Additionally, the program curriculum should be developed collaboratively between the corporation and the educational partner.

Finding the Right Partner How does a corporation go about finding the right educational partner? (See "The Right Fit,".)

Many colleges, universities, and other adult learning institutions are actively seeking out corporation partners and partnerships. For executives seeking out these alliances, it is helpful to begin with professional associations—such as the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers (SPBT), the HMC Council, the Pharmaceutical Management Science Association (PMSA), or the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA)—who have helpful member lists. Choose the one that best matches your goals, and contact their development office with your needs, requesting a proposed solution.

Consider approaching potential partners with a proposal that clearly outlines the perceived benefits to both parties. Be certain to ask for examples of completed projects and talk to their references. During your research, you should also ascertain if their personnel have adequate experience to provide and support the solution you seek.

When it comes to corporation-education partnerships, the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. Because of the wealth of benefits to be gained, it's easy to see why organizations that form symbiotic partnerships enjoy advantages in today's competitive marketplace, and why they're often uniquely positioned to handle tomorrow's challenges.

Barbara B. Lockee is an associate professor of instructional technology at Virginia Tech and Michelle A. Reece is vice president, learning and curriculum development, CMR Institute. They can be reached at
, respectively.


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