Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to break out of academic medicine to enter industry

Let’s face it: academic physicians often face burnout and many of them get called from recruiters about non-clinical opportunities in pharmaceutical research, biotechnology drug development, etc. How does an academic physician break out of the world of academic medicine? Is it as simple as applying for a pharmaceutical job online? Do you simply trust what you hear from an executive recruiter?

The entire process of breaking out of academic medicine and transitioning into industry can be quite complex if you’re trying to negotiate the optimal package that makes the most sense for you to leave academia. How strong are your corporate leadership skills? What is your value proposition? How do you negotiate your salary? Who else is applying for the position? Are you truly a competitive job candidate given the fact that many other seasoned physician executives may have many more years of industry experience?

Making such a career transition is often a one-way journey (although I know of several stories where physicians left to enter industry, and then returned to academia). One of the best resources available for you is to speak with physicians who have left academia to work for pharma. Ask them probing questions and decide if that type of life makes sense for you. Another great resource is to speak directly with internal human resource (HR) professionals who have worked in the pharma/biotech industry. These individuals can provide you with valuable insights about the interview process and coach you through the various stages you’re likely to encounter along the way.

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