Being an orthopedic surgical rep sounds like a super cool job to a lot of people. I won’t lie to you, it is. The job is fascinating. It’s complex, ever-evolving, mechanical and scientific all at the same time. To be a part of rebuilding someone’s body is exhilarating. It’s also about incredibly long hours, an immense amount of stress and the pressure of knowing the surgeon who has a person’s life in their in their hands is depending on you to have him or her properly equipped for any eventuality.
The picture most people have in their minds of a healthcare sales rep is pretty consistent – the pharmaceutical person pulling a roller-board behind them into a doctor’s office. The office staff is hoping he or she brought them lunch. That’s not orthopedics. Orthopedics is in the operating room with the surgeon and the surgical team, setting up the hardware for the doctor, nurses and techs. They are there to answer real-time questions during the procedure to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Sure, you’re responsible for meeting with surgeons outside the O-R – talking to them about why your product is a perfect choice for their patients and which patients it’s perfect for. But that’s not even a third of the responsibility. The other two-thirds consists of building that inside the O-R relationship with surgeons who trust you to help them put a person back together.
As an orthopedic surgical rep, you have no schedule. Your schedule is the doctor’s schedule, the schedule of the surgical calendars at multiple hospitals. I had a particularly long day the other day. I live for those long days – the challenge of making sure everything is perfect and the satisfaction when it’s over of knowing you helped make multiple people’s lives better. My boss sent me a text message asking how everything was going. He knew it was a day full of multiple procedures and the pressure was on. I sent him a single picture of a hospital gurney tucked away in the corner of a hallway. It was where I was about to crash for a long-needed nap.
Those multiple people whose lives you helped make better, they have no idea who you are. And that’s okay.