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Preparing For A Career In Pharmaceutical Sales

Updated on September 18, 2016
As a Pharma representative you have the option of working within a company, specializing in promoting one particular type of drug to Gastroenterologists. For example, The drug in the picture here, is Nexium, which Doctors use to treat GERD.
As a Pharma representative you have the option of working within a company, specializing in promoting one particular type of drug to Gastroenterologists. For example, The drug in the picture here, is Nexium, which Doctors use to treat GERD.
The insiders guide into the world of pharmaceutical sales is a good book to help one break into pharmaceutical sales and medical sales, it can be ordered on amazon, it's author is Jane Williams
The insiders guide into the world of pharmaceutical sales is a good book to help one break into pharmaceutical sales and medical sales, it can be ordered on amazon, it's author is Jane Williams

A career within the pharmaceutical industry cannot only be an interesting one, but aLeo a rewarding one! Not just because of the many different perks that you sometimes receive, but there are also many other reasons. When I entered this field over ten years ago, transitioning from a government job, I did so because I wanted to do something within the medical industry. And number two, I wanted to make a difference in helping people, who were suffering with various illnesses', get better sooner.

It's true, that there are many professions within the Healthcare/medical industry. You have the choice of being a physician's assistant, registered nurse, ultrasound technician and many more, but again for me it was pharmaceuticals. I think the one major reason however, that made me turn to pharmaceutical sales, is that I wanted to be a Pharmacist when I was younger. However at that time, I was in the middle of completing credits at night school, to complete my Bachelor's degree.

And also the requirements than for qualifying as a pharmacist, was six years of school. At that point I decided it was two years too many-paying off an extra college loan and having to drive a long distance to attend night classes. I thought it was just too time consuming. So I figured that the second best choice for me, knowing that I loved studying about various topics related to medicine and pharmacology, was to choose a career as a pharmaceutical or medical sales consultant.

When some of my friends ask what I do for a living, I tell them that I sell drugs legally. That usually puts a crooked grin on their faces. However It's enjoyable and I do enjoy what I do. In addition, I have the peace of mind and a good conscious knowing that what I do is important to the medical community and to add- I won't end up in jail, for selling illegal narcotics, or some similar substance.

Mainly because I represent a pharmaceutical company and not some drug pusher who for the most part is selling drugs to innocent children on our streets. Kids for the most part don't have the common sense to say no to them, probably because they are scared something will happen to them. And who knows it just may one day.

On the other hand being a medical device representative or even medical sales consultant, is a full-time career which helps you sustain not only a decent income, but most importantly helps pay the bills. Pharmaceutical sales as I mentioned earlier can be lucrative and not just for the perks that are received in terms of bonuses and other awards.

In this profession you have the opportunity to establish long-time relationships with a variety of physicians from all walks of life. Look at it this way-what you do as a pharmaceutical sales or drug rep, is important. You are part of an elite group of professionals who bring not only advanced medical information to the physician. But in addition you bring valuable samples of drugs to patients, who possibly cannot afford any medications at all.

Even though I represent a Biopharma company and market various pharmaceuticals to a given audience of Doctors. I do not always agree that taking prescription medications is the solution to curing all diseases. For the majority of patients they are life saving. Sometimes there are often side-effects that can be bothersome.

But when you think about it, for the most part the benefit that these medications provide outweigh the side-effects. If an over the counter-remedy, or herbal supplement helps your condition, than that's great. And by all means you should consider this option before taking any Prescription medication, that could without a doubt cause side-effects.

Sometimes that is not good, particularly if a patient is suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes and over the counter remedies are just not what the doctor ordered. Every person is different, from a pharmaceutical standpoint you have to look at how the physician visualizes or sees his patients. This is called the patient profile and can be important for the physician, in making a correct diagnosis in a particular patient.

The sample medications and medical information that you provide to that Doctor and his patient, do more than just save a few bucks out of that persons pocket. Overall it enhances and improves the overall quality of life and prolongs the life of that individual.

Yes - working in the capacity as a pharmaceutical detailer, another name given to a drug rep. You are bringing more to the Doctor's office, than just a few samples of a particular drug and some medical literature. You literally can change someones life. And that is the mindset that you should have if you wish to seek a career within this industry. I also think of it this way...If you have to wake up every morning and do not really enjoy what you're doing, than what's the sense of getting up in the first place.

Not all of us are in that position. I was in a position once, where I absolutely dreaded what I did for a living. If you have enough ambition and enthusiasm to go along with it, nothing is impossible. And for the most part you're never too old to pursue a different line of work.

You're probably wonderin at this point, how to prepare for a career inpharmaceuticals?I've had people ask me that question and as a reply, I tell them that there are two basic requirements. One is you have to enjoy reading, mainly medical literature or like to read a lot, particularly medical journals and training literature that pertains to a wide variety of disease topics.

In this profession you really have to know what your talking about, or act like you know what your talking about. The training that you receive from a future company that you may work for, is intended not only to help you speak at a Doctors level, but it also prepares you to discuss disease states with the Doctor as it applies to a particular patient profile.

Secondly, as a pharmaceutical sales specialist or sales representative, you will have to drive a good deal of the time and not just around the block and back. Most representatives are responsible for a large, given territory and must travel within this territory four to five days a week, 365 days of the year. I usually travel round trip on any given day, one-hundred and fifty miles to one doctors office in my territory and back home.

Also you may have to research your given target specialties, that you will call on within your territory. In most cases the list of physicians whom you must visit at least two times per month, are at the address the company gives you. In some cases it may be an old address and you will have to do some detective work on your own, to find out where in your state they had moved to.

So Reading and Driving a lot are two of the main requirements, besides having a four year college degree. Today pharmaceutical companies are not so particular in what type of degree you have, as long as it is a four year degree, from an accredited university or other institution.

Years ago, the only individuals that pharmaceutical companies would hire to consult with Doctors, were registered pharmacists, or maybe registered nurses and nurse practitioners. Companies like Eli Lilly and Glaxo Smith Kline, were the ones who usually employed pharmacists. Today as long as you have a degree in communications, business, English literature or Business Administration, you qualify for an entry level position as a pharmaceutical representative.

Even in today's economy, pharmaceutical positions are still highly desirable and companies are always hiring. Than again no job is a one-hundred percent recession proof. And pharmaceutical companies like other fortune 500 and fortune 100 companies do lay off on occasion or downsize, because of the need to restructure. However in a good many instances, they usually rehire the staff they lay off six months later.

I also recommend that if you want to pursue a career in pharmaceutical sales or one as a medical device specialist, make sure you have a good resume and cover letter ready to give to a hiring manager upon your first interview. Your resume is probably the most important tool and it should look clean and organized, not too busy.

Besides having a good working resume, working in a hospital for a year or so, or preferably within some organization,employed in some sales capacity; will look good on your resume as well. Also it can be counted as job experience. I have included a good book, for those of the audience interested in changing careers and want to enter the pharmaceutical industry.

The insiders world to pharmaceutical sales, by Jane Williams is a great reference guide. It can be purchased at an affordable price through Amazon will give you all different tips. Anywhere from breaking into the industry to preparing an award winning resume.

Also take a look at the following website... This website not only lists all of the major pharmaceutical companies, but also information about their products and different business aspects in reference to these companies. There is also a job board, where you can view and apply for different positions throughout the country.

And one of the best resources, that I think is very resourceful, for individuals wanting to enter this industry, is the following website. This website, who's CEO is a former registered pharmacist with over 27 years of experience is an expert in this field.

Corey Nahman's website is valuable in the sense that it not only gives information on people who you can hire to make a professional entry-level resume. But also all the information you will need to break into the field of pharmaceutical sales. This website alone in my opinion, is a wealth of information. And gives a list of the various companies and a run down of what drugs are in their pipeline etc...

I've been in this career field for some time now and I still enjoy what I do, because like I mentioned earlier in my article...I go into a physician's office with the mindset of, what I do is important and I could make be the difference in helping that Doctor provide the right medication, that could save his or her patients life.

Look at it from this point and you will go far within this industry. Don't look at it as-"Hmmm, I wonder how big my quarterly bonus will be this time around?" This is definitely the wrong attitude to have and you will be wasting your time in this field, if your in it just for the money.

One more thing, you do not have to be a pharmaceutical sales representative or expert on any one particular disease category.. With this type of experience under your belt, the sky is basically the limit. You can expand within this field and go on to bigger and better things.

I thought about going into the line of regulatory or medical writing for a pharmaceutical company in the future. If you love to write and are also fond of Pharmacological topics and issues, than you can consider this avenue as well. Think it over awhile and consider the world of pharmaceutical sales. And like they say it within this industry...:"Good Luck and Good selling!"


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    • Jlbowden profile imageAUTHOR

      James Bowden 

      7 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello DP:

      I am glad you have found my article about pharma sales useful to you. And thanks for bookmarking and sharing as well. I try to write as many medical related articles as possible, but you will find that my writing also varies and I do touch upon a few other subjects as well. In addition I see that you are fairly new to hubpages. Welcome and good luck within the community among the other very helpful hubbers here on the site.


    • docentpharma profile image


      7 years ago from Ahmedabad

      Very significant article for us and I think the representation of this article is actually a superb one. This is my first time to visit your site.

      I definitely bookmark it for sharing with my friend.


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