Blog Index
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1. How do physicians adjust to the new environment?

Almost unanimously the physicians that I have placed in this industry describe the first few months as very hectic, but exciting. They perceive this as a time of significant learning. On average, the period of readjustment to this new environment is approximately 3-6 months. Most of it is limited to the integration of knowledge about clinical trial design and the various regulatory guidelines applicable to these.


2. What kind of job security can I expect?

Job security is primarily dependent on two major factors. One is the inherent stability of the company. This can be assessed by examining a profile of the company's performance and it's commitment to reinvest in discovery. Thus, maintaining a steady pipeline. The other factor is related to the profile of the drug portfolio that the company has. If the company has a strong pipeline with considerable strengths in specific therapeutic areas, then individuals whose backgrounds are relevant to these therapeutic areas can be assured a good degree of stability.


3. Do I have to leave clinical practice/academia behind entirely?

For those physicians who choose to keep up with their clinical skills and/or who wish to maintain an academic appointment this is an option. Most of these companies encourage this continuity because it benefits both parties. However, the amount of time allotted for this is limited to one day per week or some other limited arrangement. The work schedule can be demanding and the physician has to be realistic about scheduling these activities in such a way that it does not compromise the quality of the work that he/she does for the company.


4. What kind of professional growth can I expect?

For physicians who are thinking about pursuing opportunities in pharma I strongly advise that this be done in consideration of the fact that this is a real career change. Any physician making this switch will discover that the industry offers a myriad of opportunities and significant diversity in the kind of work that is performed by physicians. Furthermore, they can experience substantial growth in responsibilities and management. Typically if a physician starts out in this career at its most junior level, as an assistant medical director, he/she should expect promotions every three to four years taking them in the direction of roles which demand more of their leadership skills.


5. Are these short term projects?

I find this to be a major misconception among physicians thinking about this kind of career change. Unless otherwise specified, when a physician is offered a job in this industry it is implicit that this is a quasi lifetime appointment. Therefore, the individual can choose to stay with the initial company until he/she retires.


6. How much turnover is there in this industry? Why?

The degree of turnover in the industry can be said to be relatively high. However, this is entirely due to personal choice. That is to say, most physicians will opt to leave a current employer, because they have been recruited for a more senior, more interesting, or more financially lucrative position.


7. What kind of financial opportunities are offered by these companies?

While most companies compete very well with a physician's compensation in private practice, it is true that with some specialties/sub specialties making this kind of career change can represents an initial cut in pay. However, I cannot overemphasize the fact that within a few years this difference becomes insignificant and is exceeded by the financial packages offered by these companies. Typical packages include a six figure base salary, a sign-on bonus, a yearly bonus, full benefits, full relocation expenses, and substantial stock options.


8. If I decide to make this change and it does not work out, can I go back into clinical practice/academia?

In my experience this rarely, if ever, happens. The majority of individuals who have made this change have done it very cautiously and methodically. Therefore, the degree of job satisfaction is relatively high. In the rare instances where the individual has indeed chosen to go back he/she has done it successfully.