Big Pharma Recruits Nurses to Fill Patient-Educator Roles

Big Pharma Recruits Nurses to Fill Patient-Educator Roles

Patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis often need help learning how to take and manage their many medications. At the same time, pharmaceutical makers need better ways to keep patients on those medications to both ensure the drugs’ efficacy and maintain sales.

For that reason, drug companies, including Berlex, Pfizer and Serono, are recruiting RNs to serve as patient educators, pioneering a new avenue for nurses who choose to practice in patients’ homes.

This novel role for nurses does indeed hold promise for all concerned. And many nurses will find career fulfillment in this job -- if they’re able to assure themselves they can ethically reconcile the dual roles of professional caregiver and Big Pharma employee.

Medication Education

“It’s a very important service that’s much needed,” says Kathryn Bowles, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing. “Patients with multiple chronic conditions see a variety of doctors and end up on 12 to 14 medications with complex rules and schedules. Errors and dangerous interactions happen.”

Nurses working in doctors’ offices -- and indeed, doctors themselves -- often don’t have time to explain how to take medications, show patients how to self-inject or follow up with patients regularly. By contrast, nurses working for drug makers can dedicate themselves to providing these and related services.

Nurses can find satisfaction in this occupation, Bowles says. “It’s such a critical part of managing chronic illness,” she says. “It requires independent decision-making, and there’s variety. Every patient is unique.”

According to Victoria O’Donnell, an RN and dean of science and technology at Cañada College, “it’s an excellent career path.” All nurses, regardless of their degree, have been trained in health education, she points out.

“It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs a nurse can take,” says Carolyn Silverman, a certified diabetes educator and field manager for Innovex, a division of Quintiles Transnational that provides patient education on contract to drug makers. “These nurses help patients stay on life-saving medications in a variety of settings.” Silverman has worked as a patient educator.

And once nurses establish themselves at pharmaceutical companies, a number of related career opportunities can open up in areas such as administration and clinical research.

Ethical Dimension of Nursing for Big Pharma

Is there a potential ethical clash between the RN’s obligations as an employee of a pharmaceutical company and her fundamental professional responsibilities as a nurse? After all, the drug company is obliged to its stockholders to promote legitimate sales of its products, whereas a nurse is obliged to make sure the patient understands all his treatment options, whoever may profit from them.

“That’s something that needs to be explored, especially when there is a particular medication that’s made by a variety of pharmaceutical companies,” says O’Donnell. “It would almost be better if these nurses could do in-home care without being employed by the prescription drug maker.”

Even as Big Pharma employees, nurses are patient advocates first, which raises other practice issues. “If they are hired by a pharmaceutical company, will they be free to provide comprehensive service that looks at the whole package of medications the patient is on?” Bowles asks. “Will they look at ways to simplify the regime, perhaps even to recommend cutting a medication?”

Nurses considering employment at Big Pharma would be wise to ask specific questions about how they will practice their profession and how the company addresses potential ethical conflicts.

Learn more about biotechnology careers.

Latest Jobs

Posted: 05/22/2015
Fargo, ND, 58102
Creative Circle
Posted: 05/22/2015
Concord, NC, 28027
Signature Companies
Posted: 05/22/2015
Blackfoot, ID, 83221
Accounting Principals
Posted: 05/22/2015
Chicago, IL, 60602
Posted: 05/22/2015
Indianapolis, IN, 46278

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-302