What do physicians in pharma actually do?

This is a great question. In medical school and residency training, we get so little exposure to the industry, so career possibilities seem very mysterious even to senior physicians. To simplify, you can consider three main ‘buckets’ of physician jobs in pharmaceuticals. The career buckets are generally the same for doctors working in medical device companies.


Clinical Research Physician Roles in Pharma

Clinical research lies generally within the R&D (research and development) part of the organization. This can include very early phase drug discovery, as well as early and later stage clinical trials.


Pharmacovigilance Physician Roles in Pharma

Pharmacovigilance is all about drug safety. It can also span from early studies to post-approval safety monitoring. Overall, it’s about ensuring a medication is safe, and that we understand the expected side effects, rare but serious adverse events, and how it interacts with other drugs or food. When adverse events are noted, part of the job is to determine whether there is causality.


Physician Roles in Medical Affairs in Pharma

These positions can be thought of as the ‘educator in chief’ or ‘communicator in chief’ of the pharmaceutical company. Core responsibilities are to understand what patients and physicians need to manage disease that they don’t have today, and to be able to explain complicated science and clinical trials to a variety of different stakeholders – this could include colleagues inside the company, and people outside the company, such as clinical physicians, regulators,  and insurance professionals.


More about what doctors do in pharma

It’s worth noting that if any of these are appealing to you as a career, but you don’t want to work directly for a pharmaceutical company, similar positions using similar skills are available within regulatory agencies (the FDA, for example) and within Contract Research Organizations.


Understanding the day to day responsibilities of a physician in pharma in any one of those ‘buckets’ is really important. First, it helps you to know if you will like the job. Second, it helps you to identify your most valuable transferrable skills, which is the backbone of your industry resume.


If this all still feels a bit vague, come join me in my course Industry Insider – I’ll show you exactly how to get very clear on all of this, so you’ll make the right career move for you, AND you’ll be able to position yourself as a great candidate to land that job!


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