Why Do Clinicians Join Industry

Industry, or government employment, are not for everyone. Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and others who enjoy diversity should be especially attracted to this specialty. Versatility and adaptability, vice versa, are required for a successful career in this discipline.

Another personality trait that must be considered is the capability to cooperate and listen. The typical clinician is usually in sole charge of the patient, and needs brook little disagreement in decision-making from his/her staff. The bombastic surgeon is an international phenomenon; the pharmaceutical physician has to be the exact opposite in his/her approach. The really successful doctor in industry will be someone who actually enjoys receiving opinion from people who are not medically qualified.

For pharmaceutical physicians involved in drug development (a large subset of the specialty), there are also product-related satisfactions. These can be relatively vicarious (e.g. a reduction in spontaneous adverse event report frequency after a labeling change). More directly, occasionally, we have friends or relatives who benefit from the drugs that we develop. One of the authors of this chapter has been hugged to the point of assault by a complete stranger in Georgia (USA), a patient who judged him responsible for 'curing' her migraine. Neither protests that the reality is teamwork, nor perfume-induced sneezing, deterred this extraverted Southern lady!

Some join the industry for only a short period, and then decide that they would prefer to return to their original clinical callings. This, too, can be of professional benefit. One's clinical skills do not decline much in the first 2 or 3 years away from patients, and they can, in any case, be maintained with part-time or locum tenens clinical employment while one holds a position in a pharmaceutical company. Upon leaving industry, it is likely that the physician will take back to the clinic some new skills, e.g. better management techniques and how to approach clinical data with scientific scepticism; this experience is not usually available in the ordinary clinical situation. Such a physician will also have inside knowledge of how to increase the probability of industrial sponsorship of his/her clinical research project! One author of this chapter, when approached by a doctor with trepidation or vacillating on whether to accept an industry position, has a standard response: 'Now is not make-your-mind-up time. That will be in 2 or 3 years because then you must probably decide whether to stay in the industry'.

In 2000, the American Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians surveyed its members. One of the questions asked about personal fulfillment, and more than 90% of respondents indicated high degrees of satisfaction with pharmaceutical medi cine as a career. Lest one suspect that this was seeking the opinions of the already converted, it should be pointed out that other specialist colleges have conducted similar surveys. No other medical specialty in the USA contains such a large proportion of doctors with such positive views.

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