Healthcare Professions Interview

Tim Johnson: Pharmaceutical Marketing Manager

"How long have you been in Pharmaceutical Sales?"

"17 years"

"What do you do? What are the duties and responsibilites of your job?"

"I market and sell pharmaceutical products to physicians."

"How did you first get involved with this career?"

I had been in publishing sales and got laid off but decided to go into pharmaceutical sales because "pharmaceutical sales is one of the most demanding and challenging sales positions." I had to interview with many different companies before getting a job.

"What training did you need in order to be successful?"

To be able to sell any drug you need training on each disease state and be able to talk with doctors about it. You need to know the mechanism of action of the drug and know about all the different drugs that treat that disease state.

"What are the skills that are most important for a position in this field?"

Exceptional communication skills, very good organizational skills, and the ability to be very persuasive.

"Describe a typical day in your career. What kind of problems do you deal with? What kinds of decisions do you make?"

"Travel" by flight from state to state. Some things to consider are you have to make appointments everyday, busy doctor's, you have to earn time to discuss products. You have to fly to a state and the doctor's schedule might have changed, so they can no longer meet with you, so you have to persist and sometimes it works and other times you have to set other appointments because they cancel or delay.

"Do you find your job exciting or boring? Why?"

It's exciting when you have success getting all appointments and being influential in getting the doctors to understand why your medicine is the best medicine out of all the medicines they could have chosen from. It's boring and difficult when you work all day and make your appointments but then you have to take two flights to get to the next state you have to be in and you don't get in until 9 or 10pm sometimes.

"What is the most interesting project you have ever been involved with? Why?"

Tim: "Educating physicians on how to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or also known as Lou Gherigs Disease."

Me: "And what is that?"

Tim: "It is an auto-immune nero-muscular disorder that results in the body freezing, resulting in paralysis and ultimitaly death."

Me: "So why or how was this the most interesting job you have been involved with?"

Tim: "I would go to ALS clinics all across the country and meet with patients who had the disease and educate them on the drug Rilutek, that would help to prolong life and time to trachyoscapy by at least six months"

Me: "What is Trachyoscapy?"

Tim: When a patient has this diesease, they slowly become paralyzed throught their whole body and eventually they cannot breath so they have to have a hole cut into their throat and have a breathing tube that goes directly to the Treachea.

Me: "So what were some of the challenges with this project?"

Tim: Some ALS patients understand that there will be a lot of suffering so only about 25% of patients want to take any drug to prolong their life and 50% of patients commit suicide.

Me: Wow, why do so many commit suicide?

Tim: ALS patients have no brain deterioration. Imagine having a bad pain in your back and you're just sitting there and you can't tell anyone, that's what it is like for them. They can't tell anyone if they are in pain because they cannot speak. Some patients only take the drug to prolong life long enough to be at a special event such as a graduation.

"How would you descibe the working atmosphere and the people with whom you work?"

"High pressure, very political, and very competitive"

Me: "So is it stressful because of the high pressure?"

Tim: "Yes, yes, very stressful"
Me: "So what about the people you work with?"

Tim: "Well, it's a day-to-day basis", they're nice, busy, professional. With doctors they are also very fact-oriented, "they don't want to spend any time chatting, they just want to know clinical data that will help them treat their patients. It is important to know that what you are doing and what you're saying is correct because physicians are giving the patient medication based on what you are saying to them."

"What sorts of changes are occuring in your occupation?"

"Regulatory changes because the FDA always has new rules and regulations and there's always new drugs for different diseases."

"How much vacation time do you get a year?"

"Two weeks." The time lessens every time you change jobs.

"What is the job outlook for this profession?"

"I would say optimistic" because the baby boomers are getting older and they will need medications to help their quality life as they get older.

"Are there opportunities for advancement?"

Well, yes, I went from a sales representative and was promoted to training and development manager, and then I was promoted to district manager, and then I was promoted to marketing.

"So, is there any other information you would like to share?"

"If you want to be in sales it's a good job to have."