Medical device companies need the expert opinion of the physicians to assist with the development, safety, and marketing of their products. The involvement of healthcare professionals in device development and marketing is imperative, as physicians can relate to the end user and understand the physiology and disease processes that are implicated in the device’s use. As a result, there are a number of options for medical device jobs for physicians.
Physicians can hold positions working for medical device companies by working in development and safety, traveling to provide training and education, and in marketing and sales of the devices to fellow health professionals. Physicians have a long history of either inventing or contributing to changes to medical products to make them more effective for medical use. They have the opportunity to work for biotech and medical device manufacturers, or as consultants, providing their expert opinion on safety measures or improvements that need to be included to new products.
Although government agencies like the FDA play a role in the approval of medical devices in a similar fashion to new drug approval, many agree that independent review by practicing physicians or by physicians working in conjunction with the engineers is immensely beneficial.
In marketing, physicians are often recruited to serve as opinion leaders and tout the use of certain medical manufacturers’ products. Marketing of medical devices has changed as patients are becoming increasingly vocal about the types of procedures and devices they will receive, versus the times when marketing was almost exclusively targeted to healthcare providers or institutions.
Medical Device Marketing and Education
|Device Safety Officer|
Subject Matter Expert
▪ Instruct clinical staff on the correct implementation of new medical devices
▪ Perform medical device product demonstrations
▪ Review cases of adverse events due to medical device failure or defect.
▪ Work with interdisciplinary teams on risk reduction and quality improvement measures
|▪ Provide expert knowledge to contribute to product development in a particular area|
|Example Employers||▪ Biomedical company|
▪ Biomedical company
▪ Government agency
|▪ Biomedical company|
Job responsibilities in the medical device field can include positions in development, safety, or marketing areas, serving as consultants, sales reps, safety officers, or clinical demonstrators.
Various job responsibilities may include:
- Reviewing cases of adverse events due to medical device failure or defect
- Work with interdisciplinary team on risk reduction and quality improvement measures.
- Providing expert knowledge to contribute to product development in a particular area
- Providing recommendations for product updates or improvements
- Serving as a clinical resource for physicians learning new medical equipment or technologies
- Monitoring competitors’ products and providing feedback for product improvement
- Completing market analysis regarding unmet needs in the industry and gathering customer experience data
- Instructing clinical staff on the correct implementation of new medical devices
- Performing medical device product demonstrations
- Attending medical conferences and holding seminars and workshops to educate physicians and health professionals on products
Work Environment and Schedule
In the areas of development and safety, standard office hours can usually be expected. Physicians in these areas will likely serve in supervisory medical safety roles, or as consultants providing expert opinion. Extensive travel may be required of those who work in the marketing or sale of medical devices. Similarly, for those who are instructing others of the proper use of the equipment, travel to medical centers or clinics will likely be involved.
Practicing physicians can serve as a consultant part-time, offering valuable advice to medical device manufacturers regarding unmet needs and consumer preferences in the medical arena, or work full time in research and development for biomedical companies.
Required Skills and Training
Physicians are well suited for roles in medical device development, safety, and marketing because they often have direct access to use of the products and patient reviews, and can offer valuable feedback to device manufacturers. Although no other training is generally required for physicians seeking to make the switch to a career in the medical device field, some knowledge of marketing, business, or engineering can prove particularly helpful.
Required skills include:
- Strong communication skills and comfort with interdisciplinary teams
- Propensity for solving problems with a particular device, or an engineering background
- Influential members in their fields may be highly desirable for positions as key opinion leaders for use of a particular medical device
- A background in business could serve in areas such as licensing deals, corporate compliance, personnel management, or submission of regulatory documents
Residency, Licensure, and Training Requirements
Board certification and licensure are highly desirable, but not required for all roles. Physicians serving as expert consultants or key opinion leaders are likely to have subspecialty certification, years of experience, and national recognition of their contribution to the field.
Is This a Career for You?
Physicians seeking a change from medical practice, but who want to stay up to date with the rapidly growing medical field may be intrigued by a career in medical device development or marketing. The turnover process for new devices is more rapid than for pharmaceuticals, which can be stimulating for many physicians. Healthcare professionals in this field can often feel that their clinical insight provides valuable information for product development, safety, or assistance with marketing.
Those with excellent communication skills who can convey pertinent features will enjoy the educational component of physician work in medical devices. Those who are analytical and innovative and can provide insight on the development side may also enjoy these positions. It offers a wide variety of career options and is a rapidly growing field. Physicians with subspecialty knowledge or heavy use of particular products, such as surgeons and other procedure-heavy physicians, may have the most experience to provide feedback to manufacturers.
The medical device industry is a constantly evolving field, with new advancements, regulations, and future areas of development. Those who prefer a stable, predictable position without change would likely not enjoy a career in medical device development, safety, or marketing. There is also a fine line to walk with conflicts of interest in the field which may make some physicians uncomfortable with promoting products, or providing their opinion while receiving compensation. Some physicians prefer to be independent consultants for this reason.