Positions in the medical device arena are available nationwide, but few nurses know how to go about finding a position in this role. Medical device companies don't seem to advertise much because these jobs are in demand and are filled fairly quickly. I traveled nationally for a very large medical device company for four years and before that I worked for regional device companies. I can't begin to count how many nurses asked me if I could get them a position in medical devices and how I was lucky enough to land a job like that.
Many times it's really not what you know, but who you know. It's difficult to search on the job sites for this type of position, because there really isn't a proper title. The terms "Clinical Educator", "Clinical Consultant" and "Nurse Educator" are used to describe this position, but really it's sales support. The bottom line is this. When it comes to sales people, most nurses don't like em...Period! They tend to get in your way, get on your nerves and nurses are BUSY. They don't have time to listen to sales people nor do they trust them. They are no longer permitted to give nurses "treats or "gifts" either, so nurses really don't want to stop and listen to them anymore. Nurses listen and trust other nurses. Medical device companies know this, so they hire nurses for the RN behind their name. You are no longer there to take care of patients. You are there to support their product.
It has to be said that when you work for these companies they don't want you to be a "real nurse". In other words you can't touch the patient (which is a little difficult to get used to at first). You are there to train the nurses and physicians in that particular facility, how to operate the medical device equipment. Once you teach them, you then support them for several days after they actually roll the product out and use it on patients. This is the "GO LIVE" stage. You just hang out in a hotel with a pager in case they have a question and get paid every day! Not bad.
Usually you don't work directly for the medical device company, but instead you work for a consulting company (third party). The salary is usually quite high and you are paid per diem. Remember here that you are PRN so there are no guarantees here. You are asked to take assignments as they come and you can turn it down if you choose. I would always say I was going to take a few days off, but I liked the money so I always ended up accepting most assignments. I know many nurses that take much more time off. When I went to Europe, I was there for a month. This is one of the benefits of this type of nursing. You can take time off when you want to.
One important point here is that you are usually considered an independent contractor and taxes will not be withheld if this is the case. So you will get a 1099 form at the end of the year. Unless you work for the medical device company directly, there are no benefits. This is a big deal to many people, because health insurance isn't cheap. I paid for mine out of pocket and considered the fact that I was still making more money in that particular position so it worked out for me. This may not be the case for you, so you will need to evaluate your options on this.
Sometimes they issue you an expense card, other times you just keep your receipts for food, gas...etc and they will reimburse you. They will have a limit on what you can spend for food per day,, (it's usually around $40-$75). They may give you the allotted amount whether you spend it or not, or they may only give you what you actually spend. At one time one of the companies I worked for paid us $50 for food each day, whether we spent it or not. As you can imagine, I didn't. I made a pretty good income just on my food allowance every day.
Travel, travel and more travel. If you don't like travel, have family or pets that you don't want to leave, forget about doing this job. I have traveled to 48 states, including Hawaii. I racked up huge amounts of frequent flyer points and hotel points. So many frequent flyer points that I flew first class most of the time and traveled to Europe free of charge. When I started the position I loved to fly. Now you have to drag me kicking and screaming to the airport. I hate it. All the security and flight delays and waiting.
The medical device companies do however, pay for your food and travel expenses while you are traveling and they sometimes pay you an hourly or per diem "travel day rate".
The hotels you stay in are usually quite nice, as are the rental cars, (which are also either paid for by them upfront or reimbursed).
You may work alone on an assignment or if it is a large facility they may have several nurses there. It can get pretty lonely in a hotel room by yourself and assignments can be anywhere from one day to 2 months. ( I spent 2 months in Arizona in July and August once), I actually enjoyed that assignment, even though I think the heat fried my brain.
Now, one of the biggest fears people have is public speaking. (It's really the fear of rejection). If you don't think you can do this then don't go any further. You will be required to stand up in front of a group of people and teach. You are the authority on the device you are speaking about, so you have to instill trust and speak with enthusiasm and knowledge. You must be able to answer every question asked of you and behave in a professional manner. They will train you to do this and most people get better in time, but some people are just not cut out for public speaking. I once thought I could never get up in front of anyone and teach a class, now I could teach (and have) taught an auditorium full of people, with ease. It does take practice and if you're interested in this nursing role, you should have someone video you explaining how to make a sandwich or something else that's easy and play it back to see how you do. While this won't help you learn to speak in front of people, it will help you to see how you actually sound and act to others. The results can surprise you.
You say what the medical device company tells you to say, Remember, you are not being paid to be a nurse. You are being paid to stay on script and if you answer a question then you must also stay on script. Pretty soon, there will be no question you haven't heard before and you will become a bit like a robot.
While I am glad to have had the opportunity to travel all over the US, stay in wonderful hotels and meet wonderful nurses, I am glad I am home now. If I had to recommend this type of work to someone I would. It was a great experience for me and anyone that has the chance to do this should. Now it's your decision, stethoscope or briefcase?