3 Different Ways to Solve Your Problems in Medical Affairs (the Coach, the Mentor and the Consultant)

A while back, I did an informal survey on LinkedIn, and thank you all who participated! The purpose of the survey was to see what the perceptions and views were about coaches, mentors, and consultants. Are they viewed similarly, or distinctly different?

Here I’m presenting the results, and I will go a bit deeper into the similarities and differences between a consultant, mentor, and coach.

As you can see in Figure 1, there were 23 participants, and 56.5% of the respondents were MSLs, and 17.4% had more senior MA roles. Not shown, but 65.2% had been in MA for three years or more. Alas, no VPs, or C-suites participated in the survey 😐. So now, let’s dive into the responses regarding the opinions about coaching in this small sample and informal study.

Figure 1 Roles within MA

The Consultant


 a person who provides expert advice professionally.”

Oxford Dictionary

Consultants are experts; they are specialists in a particular area of business and know how to ‘fix things.’ When you hire a consultant, they will come in, identify, and analyze the problem from all sides and come with a solution. Their plan of action will lead to your desired outcome.

While this is a “top-down” solution, this can be extremely beneficial for many situations. 

As you can see in Figure 2, most respondents believed that this is what a consultant should do/be.

Figure 2 The Consultant

The Mentor


 an experienced and trusted adviser.”

Oxford Dictionary

The mentor walks beside you. They have been-there-done-that and can show you the way and lead you to where you want to be. They have invaluable insights into how to achieve something. They have been in the role for some time, know the knickknacks, know where to go, and whom to call when something comes up! If you have a problem, they have solutions and are there to help you grow!

Whenever you start a new role, find that mentor! It can make all the difference!

Figure 3 The Mentor

The Coach


 a partner with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”

International Coaching Federation

The coach is there to help you to achieve your dreams and your goals organically. It is your journey, and the coach helps you find where you belong.

This process is not haphazardly; it is very structured in where the coach will take you through several frameworks to reach the end goal. It is necessary to have a proactive attitude and actively participate. It’s your path, and you are in charge!

So what did people think? It was a toss up 😊. The mentor and the coach had the same number of responses. While the mentor can help you organically find your solutions, a coach should not cross the line in helping you. It’s a 1-way street.

Figure 4 The Coach

There are a time and a place for each of them; the consultant, the mentor, and the coach. Please share your experiences and thoughts 💭 in the comments below!

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