Should pharmaceutical physicians wish to change career course in the industry, there are various opportunities to explore. This is where experience of different areas (e.g. pharmacovigilance and medical affairs) can be beneficial.
One possibility is to return to clinical practice or academic medicine. Some doctors reach senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry before deciding to return to clinical practice. This move is not without its challenges; a year or two away from full-time practice gives former peers opportunities to move ahead on short lists for NHS and other clinical jobs.
Nevertheless, this move is more than possible, particularly if medical practitioners have kept up associations with medical practice. The holding of a clinical assistant or lecturer's post helps in such instances. Some pharmaceutical physicians decide, after some years of working for a company, that they would prefer to be independent, and set up a consultancy or contract company on their own, or with colleagues.
Other physicians move within companies or in the wider pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector to take up non-medical roles in marketing or general management. To move to these non-medical roles, some physicians acquire a business qualification such as an MBA, although this is not necessary. The most senior posts in companies and corporations are available to them through this route.
The simplest way to find a job in the industry is to search the jobs postings on BMJ Careers and through other relevant journals where companies and specialised firms often advertise vacant posts.
Direct approaches to companies are sometimes fruitful, even if they are not currently recruiting. Specialist pharmaceutical recruitment firms handle a large proportion of the industry's vacancies and are in a good position to offer advice. Details of recruitment companies can be found on the internet.
Networking is also a useful way to hear of vacancies and gain careers advice. LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for this, as is attending careers events such as the BMJ Careers Fair.