A medical representative's job is to promote and sell their company's products, whether that's pharmaceutical drugs or medical equipment. Customers can include doctors, nurses and pharmacists. The medical representative will increase product awareness, answer queries, provide advice and introduce new products.
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 documents
Promotional prospects are excellent – progression can be into senior sales/managerial roles or into related employment areas such as marketing or purchasing.
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 and Journal of Woundcare, as well as their respective websites.
There are several specialist recruitment agencies and consultancies that also regularly advertise vacancies. Job shadowing, networking and speculative applications are advisable. Pre-entry sales or hospital/medical work experience is advantageous.
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.
Employers may also look to hire applicants with a background in sales and the capacity to learn about scientific and medical details. If you want to go down this route straight after school, an A level or Scottish Higher in science might be advantageous in demonstrating your scientific ability. To find out more about how you can get into similar careers via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the sales and science sections of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
- Commercial awareness
- Sales skills
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills
- Organisational skills