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Enhancing Medical Affairs Training: Strategies and Innovations with Barbara Bish

Welcome to the Transforming Medical Communications podcast brought to you by MedComms Experts; I am your host, Wesley Portegies. In this podcast, we explore the dynamic landscape of medical communication strategies, innovations, and challenges. We aim to facilitate insightful conversations that contribute to the advancement of effective medical communication practices.

Joining us today is Barbara Bish, Director of Global Medical Affairs and Internal Education at Janssen. Together, we discuss the evolving role of medical affairs professionals, the importance of ongoing training, and the potential of adaptive learning and technology in the field. Barbara also shares her passion for lifelong learning and offers advice for aspiring professionals,providing valuable insights into medical affairs training and highlights the need for continuous learning and innovation.

Guest at a Glance:

Barbara is a pharmacist by training and has worked many years across numerous Medical Affairs roles. Her role focuses on the development of global Medical Affairs training programs. 


Host at a Glance:

Wesley Portegies is the CEO and Founder of MedComms Experts, a company offering a unique blend of talent, expertise, and resources to create effective medical communication strategies.  Wesley is an experienced entrepreneur, starting his first company at 19 years old and building multiple successful companies from scratch. Driven by a passion for medical communications, Wesley has over 20 years of experience in the medical industry – both agency and client side.

  • Connect with Wesley Portegies on LinkedIn


Topics we Discuss

  • Content types best suited for medical communication What is adaptive learning, and what are its benefits?
  • Best practices for medical affairs training metrics
  • Where training programs fall short
  • Advice for Medical Affairs professionals

Hot Takes and Key Highlights

  • 10:40 – 11:33- Content Types Best Suited for Medical Communication

Barbara explains that people have different ways of learning, and a broad bandwidth of content types works best. Hence, it’s essential to have a mix that cuts across text, audio and visual, interactive, and gamification. She goes further and says that there is a trend towards more social interactions for some types of learning, including at medical conferences.

“It’s obvious that not everybody is going to be one way or another, so I think sometimes having to mix it up is a good idea. So I would be a proponent for the more, the merrier is the way I look at it”.

  • 15:20  – 16:59 – What is Adaptive Learning, and What Are its Benefits?

Adaptive learning is a process where artificial intelligence is used, and it adapts to the learner’s experience with it. For instance, with a development of a therapeutic area module, there are different places where adaptive learning can occur. First, we have to think about the system itself and let the IT professionals work with the instructional designers to put that system in place and carry out the curriculum in an adaptive manner. Next, we have to consider how tech-savvy the learner is, whether at a basic or advanced level, and create the content accordingly. 

“There are several companies out there that are really looking at this area and working in this area. The aim is to improve the ease of sharing information while maximizing our use of our time”.

  • 30:00 – 31:10 – Advice for Medical Communication Leaders

The most important thing is to be a lifelong learner. Just keep learning. It’s also essential to seek out your passion in the field. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t learn. Luck also plays a part; you must be in the right place at the right time. Last but not least, never take no for an answer. 

“Be of service to others. You never know when, by doing something or giving of oneself, you may end up opening doors that you did not know were there”.


The host of Transforming Medical Communications

Wesley Portegies
CEO and Founder of MedComms Experts

Hi there,

I am the host of the Transforming Medical Communications podcast.

Our field is being left in the dust by the cutting-edge communication methods and practices in other industries. We’re going to change that. On Transforming Medical Communications we talk to the biggest and brightest names in Medical Affairs & Communications to find out what they’re doing to push our industry forward and define the future.

If you are interested in participating in an interview, please reach out to us.

Yes, I’d like to participate