Doctors working in pharmaceutical medicine develop, evaluate and market new medicines for the benefit of patients and the health of the community.
As a doctor in pharmaceutical medicine you’ll be clinically trained but will no longer hold direct responsibility for patient care.
Life as a doctor in pharmaceutical medicine
You’ll need a first-class understanding of legal and regulatory pharmaceutical frameworks and be able to apply ethical and professional codes to minimise risks to patients.
Most pharmaceutical medicine doctors work outside the NHS so collaboration is key to your role, which will involve working with research organisations, medical regulatory bodies and independent practitioners as well as the wider pharmaceutical industry.
The role has widened in recent years to cover all areas of pharmaceutical medicine including:
- drug candidate selection
- clinical research
- medical marketing
- drug safety and pharmacovigilance
- regulatory affairs
- medical and scientific affairs
- societal and public health issues relating to pharmaceuticals in the wider context of healthcare delivery
How much can I earn?
How about the benefits?
- make a difference
- flexible and part-time working
- high income early in your career
- work anywhere in the world
- excellent pension scheme
- good holiday entitlement
- NHS discounts in shops and restaurants
- excellent communication skills to manage a wide range of relationships with colleagues, and patients and their families
- emotional resilience, a calm temperament and the ability to work well under pressure
- teamwork and the capacity to lead multidisciplinary teams
- problem-solving and diagnostic skills
- outstanding organisational ability and effective decision-making skills
- first-class time and resource management for the benefit of patients
In addition, doctors in pharmaceutical medicine need to demonstrate:
- expertise of acute and continuing clinical management and care
- wide prescribing and monitoring the effects of medicines
- clinical judgement, with evidence of capacity to prioritise clinical need and to maximise safety and minimise risk
- an understanding of the basic principles of scientific and clinical research methodologies and evidence-based medical practice
- critical thinking to understand and solve complex problems
If you already have a degree, you could study for a four-year postgraduate degree in medicine.
You’ll need to pass an interview and admissions test. You’ll be asked to show how you demonstrate the NHS values such as compassion and respect.
Some medical schools look to recruit a mix of students from different backgrounds and geographical areas, so your educational and economic background and family circumstances could be considered as part of your application.
What are my chances of starting a career as a doctor in pharmaceutical medicine?
How to become a doctor in pharmaceutical medicine
Where a career as a doctor in pharmaceutical medicine can take you
- teach medical or postgraduate students as well as medical department colleagues and clinical trials teams in addition to company representatives of private firms
- specialise in laboratory-based or clinical research-based projects related to products, product classes or therapy areas
- conduct specialist research, for example as part of a PhD programme at university
- work outside medical departments in medico-legal, communications or economic disciplines in pharmaceutical companies or regulatory organisations
These organisations have further information about being a doctor in pharmaceutical medicine, particularly as your career progresses. Take a look.
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of RCPs of the UK
British Association of Pharmaceutical Physicians (BrAPP)
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
And hear from people working as pharmaceutical doctors:
A day in the life of a pharmaceutical physician (BMJ)