Career Transition: Is There Another World?

Clinical Nurse to Pharmaceutical/ Medical Device Sales Representative

by, Lisa Cove, RN, MSN, NP  Lisa Cove

What I love about the nursing profession is the diversity of career opportunities once you get your Registered Nurse (RN) status. The traditional starting point to becoming a nurse is in a nursing school program.

The first job, usually in a medical surgical unit, is the natural sequence. After about 2-3 years, nurses typically find themselves leaning toward a desired specialty.

The right work schedule often finalizes a career trajectory.

Hands-on experience increases your knowledge base as a clinician. It’s how you grow and progress naturally in the field. But then what?  Is that were it ends? Does a nurse only do hospital-based shift work, office-based patient care, or work in acute surgical settings?

The answer is no. There is a whole world out there looking for you.  There are successful, growing industries that need you! One of those is the pharmaceutical sales /medical devices industry. You can offer your expertise and talents as a patient advocate to improve the lives of patients and families through nontraditional nursing opportunities with pharmaceutical and medical device companies in sales and/or education.

Pharmaceutical Sales/Medical Device Sales

Positions have opened for nurses to join pharmaceutical/medical device sales teams for a variety of reasons:

  • the clinical nursing education and direct patient care experience cannot be matched when it comes to understanding what health care providers want to hear and what patients need;
  • access to a physician and their staff is more likely when a nurse leads that initiative:
  • doctors are used to talking to nurses, so that comfort level provides easier access to health care providers (HCPs) who want to hear about new products;
  • nurses are naturally inclusive, instinctively respectful of ancillary staff, and know how to connect on a peer-to-peer level with office nurses; and
  • there is a sense of trust that a nurse will provide the best possible patient care options.

Clinical Nurse Educators (CNEs) are also a growing group of professionals being utilized by pharmaceutical industry and medical device companies to educate potential customers (physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, patients/families) by comprehensively detailing a product. The specifics of the role of a Clinical Nurse Educator include

  • engaging in peer-to-peer discussions with clinical professionals while providing information and hands-on training on specific medications and other disease management devices used to diagnose and treat chronic conditions,
  • providing information and training on a product’s administration, dosage, management of possible side effects, and techniques to improve patient compliance,
  • developing patient and nurse education-training materials,
  • attending conferences on behalf of clients, discussing clinical trials, and increasing understanding of a client’s product among nurses, directors of nursing, physicians, pharmacists, and other health care providers (HCPs).
  • There are lots of opportunities for certified nurses beyond traditional nursing. You may find so much more!


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