So you always wanted to know what it's like being a pharmaceutical or medical representative. Or perhaps you were wondering exactly what does pharmaceutical sales representative do? besides riding around to visit ten to twelve doctors a day and sitting in their offices donning a fancy suit with an oversized carry bag.
Besides having this image embedded in your thoughts right now, you may also have somewhat of an idea; that pharma reps, as we are also sometimes called, sell or market drugs legally to physician's and other practitioners that are licensed to prescribe drug products. If you guessed this, than you may be partially correct.
However the day in a life of a pharmaceutical sales representative; encompasses a little more than just that. In fact sometimes I; being medical a representative myself, often feel like a rolling pharmacy on wheels at times. And in turn, being the drug courier responsible; for delivering multiple sample prescription products.
Prescription drug products, that I believe and hope, will help the patients, whom my doctor clients prescribe them to. All in an effort to help the ill patient, reach optimal health and wellness over a given period of time. But if these individual patients can reach their goals without my assistance and the drugs that I promote for my company. Than I wish them in return all the best.
Sometimes it is much better trying to overcome or cure an illness; without having to resort to prescription drug products, if at all possible. This is at least my theory behind it, but don't tell the drug companies I told you so. Us reps you have to remember, are not the drug companies we work for.
We only do the jobs we are told to do. And that is to move some of the market share by increasing TRX-total number of prescriptions and NRX's-To generate new prescriptions by the phsycian. And we achieve this goal by educating the physician audiences, whom we visity, about these products.
In addition to many other individuals out there, I may not always agree with how big drug manufacturer's go about promoting their products. I'm merely just a pawn on a totem pole of many drug representatives and really have little to say when it comes down to making statements, in reference to this.
I have a job to do like most of us do and try not to express my opinions too much, so I can keep doing what I love to do, without risking getting laid off because I didn't keep my mouth shut, when I should have.
It makes a real difference if you really enjoy the work that you are doing. Getting up at seven in the morning, to begin your day on a nine to five job, may be no fun if you do not enjoy doing what you are currently doing. But on the other hand most of us have no other choice in the matter and have to support our families.
When I first started out in this career field, I also held down a midnite to eight job. It wasn't easy trying to stay awake at a Hotel front desk, as an assistant manager three nights a week. Than when daylight broke on the horizon and it was time to leave. I jumped right into my car, and drove some forty miles or more; to see my physician customers.
Many others of us also work another job, aside from our normal nine to five day job. Being a pharmaceutical sales representative is not your typical nine to five job however. And in most instances you will not have to work a second job, if you do this one correctly from the beginning. Not just because you will earn a handsome salary, with quarterly bonuses on top of that salary and other nice perks. But you will also be busy enough with pre and post call analyses.
This is usually required if you want to be a successful representative. You want to know ahead of time, who you are going to plan to visit for that given day. And your post call notes for one, will help you to do this better, by helping you to organize a plan or strategy. And you will want to write this plan in your notepad; to discuss the important points you want to go over with your clients.
Points in the way of features and benefits that your doctors should know about your companies product. After returning from the field, you will in turn have to write down what are we call post call notes, either in a handheld computer, such as a PDA, or on your company pc.
You will type in notes to discuss what was important to this doctor on your call, in reference to the drug product you promote. What he or she likes, or what improvements a particular physician would like to see in the future. Possibly it is trying to get the drug you promote on formularly in a nearby hospital where you doctor makes his rounds at.
Or possibly this give healthcare provider he wants to see what the company can do in the way of providing prescription copay cards, which offer a higher rebate dollar amount in return. After you have written down all pertinent notes, you have a hardcopy to use on your next visit with this client physician. Hopefully you will have answers for him or her and they will have a better understanding from their discussion with you, on how to better prescribe your companies product to one of their patients in need of drug therapy.
As a pharmaceutical sales representative or medical sales specialist, you can also expect to be using a company issued laptop, a good amount of the time. In fact you will be checking for company related emails in the morning before you start off your workday. Right up until you return from the field in the evening. Big corporate companies, like drug companies are notorious for email communication between the headquarters and their representatives.
Sometimes you wonder if there is a real person at the other end, who sends those emails out. Than when you receive a voice mail or two, in relation to upcoming training, or a required webinar, you are to attend, than you know for a fact, that there are real people working for pharmaceutical companies. Not some automated robots, living in an imaginary virtual world.
The great thing about this job is that I am my own boss. In other words I do have a boss, or regional manager; whom I converse with from time to time. And it all comes down to, if I am doing my work out there, in what us pharma reps call the field. Than you don't have to worry about ever receiving phone calls from him or her; in reference to adhering to your daily or monthly call plans. That is literally the beauty of being your own boss.
If you do your job, you will be left alone. If not expect a lot of voice and emails. As a pharmaceutical representative within my given geographical location, I am able to plan my schedule accordingly, in an effort to make sure I do complete all of my work before months end.
So how does a Medical consultant, or pharmaceutical representative go about this process. First of all it is not rocket science and you do not have to be rocket scientist to become a pharmaceutical sales specialist either. But I want to let you know first hand, if you do not have a four year Bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college.
Then most likely no company out there will even consider you as a potential candidate. If you do have two or three years of college under your belt-you're more than halfway there, but not quite there. It's still not good enough.
The best advice I can give you, is to finish up those last few credits via an online degree program. There are many universities which offer an online Bachelor's degree program. Take advantage of them.
Most pharmaceutical companies will even accept a Bachelor's of degree in english literature, or a program geared towards a general studies degree. Just as long as it is a four year degree. A majority of pharmaceutical companies often look for individuals who hold a nursing degree or a Business Administration degree.
At one time certain pharmaceutical companies, Eli Lilly for example; would hire individuals who only had a Pharmacy background, or were registered pharmacists. So if this is a career field that you would like to consider, than by all means finish up your studies.
And this applies not only to those younger ones in the audience, but to some of you whom may be over forty and considering a career change. It's never too late to learn and definitely never too late to complete those four year degree requirements.
Most pharmaceutical companies want you to have this advanced degree, mainly because you will be conveying complex scientific and medical terms; that only a physician would understand for the most part.
Than again I have met physicians during the course of my work, who didn't appear to understand a lot about medical terms and disease states for that matter. I as well as anyone else who desires to work within the pharmaceutical or medical industry; must not only have a strong command of the english language.
But in addition have a strong understanding about various disease states, clinical studies and other pertinent medical information, related to pharmaceutical science. After all you do not want to be standing in front of the Doctor, with only two to three minutes of time, trying to explain the features and benefits of your companies product.
For one thing you do not want to embarrass yourself, standing there sounding like a babbling idiot. Thinking that you know what you're talking about while you really don't. Don't worry most doctor's will know what you are trying to convey to them. If you continue on a course like this, it won't take long before one of your doctor clients, get back to your company. Companies do send out random surveys in reference to the pharmaceutical representatives sent to their offices.
These survey forms rate you as a person and drug representative. If your company gets the notion after awhile that you are not giving an effective presentation. This can put you in jeopardy of losing your job in the future.
Pharmaceutical companies are not different than a lot of other companies out there. If you do not perform satisfactorily after a few performance appraisals. You are given verbal warnings and than eventually terminated.
So if you think doctor's are not paying attention to your presentation, than think again. After two additional follow-up visits to each of your physician clients, they will soon understand the point you have been trying to get across, as well as on how to effectively promote your drug product to their patients.
You may also be wondering at this time, if I start my day off any different than the rest of you reading this article. And the answer to this question, is yes and no. I do start off with a fresh pot of coffee in an effort to clear the cobwebs from my head. Next I sit down in my home office and twirl a helicopter pen clock. When it has stopped spinning several times, I pretty much a focused on the days activites ahead.
By the way another advantage of working for a pharmaceutical company is that you get to work out of your own home, a good deal of the time. So make sure that you can convert a spare bedroom, finished basement, or other space or area of your home into a workable office.
It is important that this area be fairly private and the noise level is not too distracting. This is important especially when you have to be on a conference call with the company. A lot of companies, including my own hold numerous conference calls over the phone, to go over sales strategies and for upcoming product training.
There's nothing more annoying than having a barking dog, or someone else in the family interrupt you when you're trying to pay attention to detailed information and are also jotting down notes at the same time.
Some of you who also write as freelancers on a part-time basis know this to be true. If you are working on an article or trying to complete a rough draft or some other piece, than you know how difficult it may be to concentrate, if your quiet space is invaded. So make sure you designate this area first and have all the necessary tools set aside on your workspace. It will definitely make things flow much more smoothly.
Besides spending a good deal of time in your office during the week. You will also inevitably spend a much greater amount of time driving back and forth to visit different clients in your automobile. Driving is one of two most important attributes of being a Pharmaceutical Sales Specialist believe it or not.
The other is having to read a good deal of complex medical and health related manuals. So if you do not enjoy driving, sometimes 150 miles or more in one given day, than you will not enjoy being employed within this career field. And if you despise reading in addition, than this definitely is not a job for you.
I think that the daily amount of driving alone that I have to do within my assigned territory for the day, is really the most difficult part of the job. Sometimes dealing with difficult office staff, or waiting to get a moment or two to speak with your Doctor client can sometimes be further aggravating in itself.
The majority of time, the office staff, or what we call the gatekeeper, has their hands full with handling the incoming phone calls and dealing with unhappy patients at the front desk. And you could readily see why the office staff could be in a sour mood. If you do get a negative response in one of your client doctor's offices, don't give up the ship quite yet. You sometimes just have to go with the flow and respect their individual wishes.
The Doctor may just be too overwhelmed and is catching up on his morning patients. If that is the case, than you are going to have to respect their wish. Possibly you may have to reschedule a later part of the day, or even week into your routing, to come back to visit this particular office. Rejection is a real biggie here as well, that some individuals who work within the pharmaceutical sales arena find.
Do not take rejection personally. Most newer reps who come into the doctor's office think that they are not wanted there. Sometimes they get deceiving looks or expressions that hint that they are being nothing more but a nuisance. Never look at it from this point of view, because if you do, than rejection will only prevent you from doing this job well.
I sometimes view a situation like this the following way..Looking at it from this viewpoint I come to the conclusion-that a particular office or individual is just having a bad day with the overwhelming amount of patient needs that they have to attend to. So what I do is make a mental note to myself and quietly say..."We'll I know it's not me,so in turn let's hang up the phone and try again later!" This usually is the type of psychology I employ when I encounter a situation such as this one.
Whether you're a nurse, lawyer, firefighter, or yes, even the Doctor you have a job to do. You cannot get discouraged doing a job like this. After all by filling the shoes of a pharmaceutical representative, you bring a great added value to a physician and his or her patients through the drug products that you promote.
Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise. That is why I still am doing what I love the most and that is helping people live longer, healthier and an overall better quality of life, not only for them, but for their families as well. Always keep this mindset and you will perform well in this type of a career field.
Sure there are also many prescription products on the market that do cause some serious or unwanted adverse events. But a good many of these drug side-effects also occur because of physician or patient error. Basically some individual patients, did not understand how to properly take their medication when given instruction, at the doctors office.
The doctor either did not explain it correctly to the patient, or there was some confusion on that particular patients part. If in doubt always ask your doctor a second time, about how to take your medicine.
This is another reason why us Drug representatives are out there. To answer questions that the doctor may have about the specific product we promote, or clarify other pertinent information such as what contraindications the medicine may have with another and to convey proper prescribing methods.
So as you can see so far, the duties of a pharmaceutical or drug representative is many. It is essential that a drug representative know everything there is to know. Not only about the drug he promotes for his company, but other similar products on the market. Possibly ones that his or her competitor promotes.
It's really important, as well as essential that you give your doctor customer, the correct information. Because by doing this alone, can help avoid future, dosing error's from happening to patients. Even though the doctor or nurse practitioner for example is in the end, the responsbible party when writing out the final dosing directions, next to the pharmacist.
As a pharmaceutical or Medical sales consultant you are constantly going to learn about different medical conditions and new therapies. It is without a doubt a very interesting field to work in. It can also be one that is lucrative, fun and rewarding as well. You will make a decent living working within the arena of pharmaceutical sales.
Consider yourself to the right hand man, to the doctor's whom you visit in your territory. And like myself, I hope over time that you come to realize that you have helped and even changed the lives of many individuals. Largely by way of the medicines you promote to physician's. Assisting their individual patients to live a longer, happier, as well as better quality of life. In summary working within the field as a pharmaceutical sales representative, is no different than any other job.
You will continue to develop the skills necessary to be effective in this job. And while you're out there talking to healtcare professionals about the many benefits that your product brings into their offices. You will at the same time be developing a long and lasting relationship with those individual physician clients. After all isn't that what most jobs is about, establishing long lasting relationships?
Judy Specht from California on December 20, 2011:
Interesting hub with useful information. I highly respect anyone who can stand the traffic and various inconsistencies of doctors staff.
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on December 13, 2011:
I'm glad that you enjoyed this article and hopefully you found it interesting as well. You got the main point, when you mentioed that reps should not take rejection personally. Absolutely right, because I know just from visiting my own doc from time to time, he is so busy just catching up with his morning patients, in the afternoon. That I barely get a minute to discuss product information with him. All I manage to get is a signature from a majority of doctors. But sometimes that just has to be good enough. At times I wish I were in your position, working as the chemist in developing these drugs, rather than on the marketing and promotional side. Again thanks for all of your feedback and comments as well. Take care.
healthwriterbob from United States on December 13, 2011:
Hi again, Jl
This was a very good summary of what it's like to be a pharmaceutical sales rep. I can understand the problems that these sales reps have in trying to convince doctors to use their company's drug and not the drug of a competing company. I spent over 30 years as a chemist in the drug discovery labs of a pharmaceutical company so I know how great the competitive pressures are within the industry. I thought it was important that you pointed out that a sales rep should not take rejection personally. Doctors are under a great deal of time pressure during the day.
Credence2 from Florida (Space Coast) on December 10, 2011:
Thanks again, I will have to make some preparations, but I may well have an advantage here in sparse environment of this island, based of the lack of qualified people. Cred2
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on December 09, 2011:
I'm glad that I have inspired you to further look into this career choice, as a part time venture. And hope that you find a few open vacancies within the companies that I mentioned. Make sure your resume is not too busy and is relatively a recent copy. Hiring managers and pharmaceutical companies alike, look at the way your resume is laid out, believe it or not. Take care and good luck to you as well.
Credence2 from Florida (Space Coast) on December 08, 2011:
Jl, I am delighted and will check into your recommended companies. I was interested in the tutoring as well, but I do not have an advanced degree. Thanks for helping me expand my horizons.
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on December 06, 2011:
I enjoy this work, mainly because you are really never bored and get the opportunity to help many individuals through conveying relative medical information to these individuals physicians. Most pharmaceutical companies today, will accept you as long as you have some type of four year degree. Also there are a few companies out there, that will hire you to work on a flex-time or part-time basis. They also have a full time sales force. A few that I can think off the top of my head are...PDI-INC. Publicis, Inventiv Health and Quintilles or Innovex. Give them a try to glad you found my article useful to you in some way. Thanks for your comments as well. Take care.
Credence2 from Florida (Space Coast) on December 06, 2011:
Most interesting line of work, I am looking for something of that nature as I am retired and could use a supplement to current income. I have the degree, but not in a related field. I would like to look into this further, thanks for the article and idea... Cred2
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on December 05, 2011:
Hello my friend:
Yes, that is certainly a humorous way of looking at it. But it pays the bills does it not?
Brent on December 05, 2011:
Noting but drug pushers !!!!!!!!!!
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on December 04, 2011:
I am glad you found my hub interesting and informative. I know that it was quite lengthy, but it was necessary in order to give a thorough review of what it's really like to work as a drug rep. Thanks for hanging in there and reading through all of the material. Also appreciated you kind comments. Take care.
laurathegentleman from Chapel Hill, NC on December 04, 2011:
Very interesting and informative!