EvidenceCareersSystematic Review

From freelance traveller to service lead – opportunities in systematic literature review

From freelance traveller to service lead – opportunities in systematic literature review cover

Jodie Worrall recently joined Mtech Access as an Associate Director, leading our Evidence Synthesis and Systematic Review team alongside Shona Lang. In this interview, we learn about her expertise, her travels and what its been like returning to consultancy, at Mtech Access.

What brought you into a career in evidence-based medicine (EBM)?

After finishing a degree in Psychology and Philosophy I applied for a position as a research assistant in systematic reviews in the Pain Research Unit within the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics at Oxford University. I had a longstanding interest in health and healthcare (I spent my holidays working with Alzheimer’s patients) and was keen to see where these interests could take me. I secured the role and, with the support and encouragement from the research team and my supervisors, it led to a DPhil. After completing my studies I went straight into an EBM-focused role at Pfizer. Since then I have worked for other Pharma companies and consultancies. Most recently I have been freelancing whilst living abroad.

What are the key differences between working directly for a Pharma company and working in a consultancy?

I have enjoyed my roles in Pharma and in consultancy but they were quite different. My Pharma roles tended to be much more focused, working alongside others to support a specific product or portfolio. In contrast, my consultancy role is incredibly diverse and every day is different. I enjoy sitting within a team of systematic review specialists where we can discuss different ideas as well as within a broader team of peers with different skillsets.

What motivated you to join Mtech Access?

I’ve been lucky enough to live in several different countries. I was living in Singapore until Christmas last year. Freelancing gave me the flexibility to travel the globe but the time differences often meant that my collaborators were literally finishing up their day just as I was beginning. I started to feel a bit isolated and was ready to return to a more conventional team-based environment.

I had been following the development of Mtech Access as I knew several team members from a previous role. A couple more familiar names joined so it seemed like a good place to work. When we returned to the UK there was a role in the Mtech Access Systematic Literature Review team with an office very close to the place we wanted to call home; it seemed like it was meant to be!

What was it like travelling whilst working as a freelancer? Do you have favourite place?

My partner and I embarked on our first international adventure with a move to Almaty in Kazakhstan back in 2007. Since then we have experienced life in several different countries and returned to live in Texas twice over. My work has often been UK- or EU-focused so there was sometimes quite a contrast between the world of work and the local healthcare situation.

It’s hard to pick a favourite place as each was so unique. We spent just over 2 years living in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea; it’s a very different country, and a very different culture. I met some wonderful people whose smiles will forever hold a special place in my heart.

I do think I now have a unique perspective on healthcare having navigated care provision in the UK, the USA, Australia, Singapore, and beyond.

We’re all settled into UK life now, though sometimes I find myself hesitating in front of my car whilst trying to recall which side is the driver’s side.

What have you got involved with in your first few weeks with Mtech Access?

It’s been busy and fairly intense with lots of information and inductions. I’ve really enjoyed coming into the office and meeting people in-person.

I arrived just at the kick-off of planning for the coming year; it’s been exciting to be involved in this process and figuring out how we’re going to achieve our goals. We had an off-site planning day, which was a great opportunity to meet the other service leads based in other offices and learn more about their expertise.

Day-to-day there’s lots of things to balance and everything is very ‘hands-on’ from project work through to business development. Today I’ve been interviewing potential new team members, working on a proposal for a new project, and helping out with a couple of Systematic Literature Review projects.

Everyone has been genuinely welcoming and friendly, I feel like I’ve been here for years already, which I think is a good thing.

We also have some talented bakers and there’s always a healthy supply of cake in the office, which always helps! We recently had a cake sale for Red Nose Day and we had a great selection to choose from!

Has anything surprised you?

How much the world has changed! Hybrid roles and home-working are now the norm rather than the exception. The ease of virtual collaboration with colleagues based elsewhere is also very striking. The Systematic Literature Review team is split across different locations, mostly between our Bicester and York offices, but it’s very easy to keep in touch and work together on projects.

If you could swap your expertise and role with a colleague from another team, who would you swap with?

I’d definitely choose someone from the NHS Insight and Interaction team as the inner workings of the NHS are largely a complete mystery to me, and I would really like to learn more!

When you are not at work, what do you like to do?

I enjoy spending time with my family and doing all the things you do with a young child. We’re also house-hunting at the moment and I like the idea of a bit of a project, so I guess there is probably quite a bit of DIY lurking somewhere in my future.

To find out more about our approach to evidence synthesis and systematic review, please email info@mtechaccess.co.uk.

If you are interested in joining our team at Mtech Access, please visit our careers page for details of our current vacancies.