Medical representative: job description

Medical representatives are the key point of contact between pharmaceutical and medical companies and healthcare professionals, promoting product awareness, answering queries, providing advice and introducing new products.
Excellent sales skills are a key requirement for medical representatives.

What does a medical representative do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Key responsibilities include:

  • organising appointments and meetings with community and hospital-based healthcare staff
  • identifying and establishing new business
  • negotiating contracts
  • demonstrating or presenting products to healthcare staff including doctors, nurses and pharmacists
  • undertaking relevant research
  • meeting both the business and scientific needs of healthcare professionals
  • maintaining detailed records
  • attending and organising trade exhibitions, conferences and meetings
  • managing budgets
  • reviewing sales performance
  • writing reports and other literature

Promotional prospects are excellent — progression can be into senior sales/managerial roles or into related employment areas such as marketing or purchasing.

Typical employers of medical representatives

Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies employ medical representatives. Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and in newspapers, trade magazines and publications such as New Scientist, Drug Tariff, Pharmafile and Journal of Woundcare as well as their respective websites.

There are several specialist recruitment agencies and consultants including Oxford Pharmaceutical Sciences Limited and Scientific Staff Consultants that also regularly advertise vacancies. Job shadowing, networking and speculative applications are advisable. Pre-entry sales or hospital/medical work experience is advantageous.

Qualifications and training required

Employers normally prefer graduates with relevant qualifications in life sciences, pharmacy, medicine, nursing or dentistry. New recruits normally receive an initial period (up to six months) of intense training, following which they may shadow experienced sales staff before commencing work on their own.

Many new sales executives also take the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) examinations within the first few years of work. A full driving licence is also a common requirement.

Key skills for medical representatives

  • Commercial awareness
  • Sales skills
  • Maturity
  • Confidence
  • Patience
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Organisational skills