For many years now there has been a clear path for medical professionals who move from education to working in the pharmaceutical industry, both in the UK and globally. However, there is another option altogether.

Start with your basic medical qualification: MBBS, MB BChir or equivalent, depending on your country of qualification. Then undertake your initial house officer rotations if you are in the UK before choosing your specialisation and starting to practice. In the U.S. you will do your residency and then potentially look at Board Certification in your chosen field.

Once all this is done, you then turn to the “dark side”:  complete your Dip Pharm Med and get tempted away from treating patients at source, to the more commercial world of the Pharmaceutical Industry. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.  In fact I often try and convince my wife, who is a GP, that it would be a good idea….

Once you join a pharmaceutical company then you have three options for the most part: Translational Research, Clinical Development or Medical Affairs. The first two will see you discovering and developing medicines, the latter commercialising them as you continue, on your way to ever more senior and more influential positions.

Medtech – the road not taken?

However, there is another option altogether. One that seems to be less travelled, but which allows a mix of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs – R&D and Commercialisation – and, dare I say it, a more rapid path to seeing the fruits of one’s labours directly affecting the health of patients: the Medical Technology or Medtech sector.

The Medtech sector is changing.  It used to lag behind the pharmaceutical industry, but now product development cycles are much faster and it’s equally as varied in terms of therapy areas. Medtech has a huge variety of work to interest and challenge medical professionals:  from patch pumps for diabetes to artificial pancreases, from pacemakers to stents and from X-Rays to MRI and Proton Beam Therapy, to name just a few.  You can wait for a 10-year cycle to bring a drug to market, or you can influence patient care by working closely with your peers in gaining approval for a new and innovative device.

Within the Medtech community, particularly in Europe, medics are scarce and personally I have never understood why. Is medical technology seen as less prestigious than pharmaceuticals or is the Medtech industry simply not doing enough to make a case to ambitious medics who could make a valuable contribution to this exciting and important area?

If you have an opinion on this or would like to hear more about the roles that The RSA Group has for medics in the Medtech industry then please get in touch.

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