Case study

Diabetes therapy area specialist — Tamara Davis

Tamara uses the skills from her physiology degree on a daily basis working as a medical sales representative

How did you get your job?

Throughout my time at university there were regular career guidance sessions and activities as well as resources to ensure that students planned their career paths and worked towards achieving these career goals.

In the spring term of final year, I researched the role of medical sales representative and found several trainee vacancies. After applying for the role of diabetes therapy area specialist with a pharmaceutical company, I was interviewed and offered the job two days after my graduation.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Although my role is in sales, my physiology degree from King's College London gave me a great foundation with some essential transferable skills.

My initial training on the job seemed like a revision session to me as I had covered most of the topics during my studies.

Also, completing a six-week summer studentship, (sponsored by the Wellcome Trust), and doing my final year research project in the diabetes lab at King's College London helped me to understand the disease area in which I work.

How do you use your degree in your job?

A science degree helps in understanding the pharmaceutical industry and provides the communication/interpersonal, analytical, computer, organisational, time management and presentation skills that are essential for this role.

What are your main work activities?

I work as part of a team, although I'm accountable for my own geographical area.

I am based in the field, so a typical day at work involves me planning customer calls, meeting with customers, actively listening to and establishing their needs, tailoring my calls to suit those needs and closing with some agreements.

I also provide educational support to healthcare professionals and their patients on an on-going basis. My car is my office and I spend most of the day travelling from one customer appointment to the next.

At the end of the day, I review my interactions with customers, update my account plans and complete varying administrative tasks.

What do you enjoy about your job?

One thing that I enjoy about this role is that I travel and meet new people on a daily basis. I also enjoy being responsible for any success within my territory. When customers tell me that the products have improved their patients' quality of life, I feel gratified knowing that I am making a difference in somebody's life.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

My employer supports individual development and so I am in the process of going on short courses to enhance my own development. Account management will be my next move.

However, there are many career paths within the pharmaceutical industry and it's up to you to identify an area of interest, set career goals and work towards achieving these goals.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

For anyone wishing to get into this role, make use of the careers advice department at your university, attend careers shows and speak to advisers who can point you in the right direction.

Do as much research into the industry as you can and spend some time shadowing someone who works in the industry to gain first-hand exposure to the role.

Gain an understanding of the NHS and how the pharmaceutical industry relates to the NHS. The role can be quite challenging but very rewarding for a highly motivated person.

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