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Personal Views

Out of the closet

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 13 December 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1630
  1. Jackie Napier, pharmaceutical physician
  1. West Sussex

    On the day of my interview for a senior house officer rotation in general medicine, a more senior colleague gave me some unusual advice.

    “When they ask you about your long term career ambitions, Jackie, you'd better not tell them the truth.”

    Obediently, I dodged the question when it came, mentioning a (genuine) interest in neurology and failing to contradict the panel's assumption that I wished to become a neurologist. Having been given the job, I spent the next two years evading further inquiries, much to the exasperation of my consultants. Nearing the end of the rotation, with the ink barely dry on my membership certificate, I announced that I was joining the pharmaceutical industry as a medical adviser.

    My news received a mixed reception, from those colleagues who said that they wished that they could do the same thing, to those who accused me, at best, of wasting my talents and, at worst, of betraying my profession. Many assumed that I would be working as a sales representative, this role embodying their sole experience of the industry. Eventually, I gave up trying to correct them.

    Pharmaceutical medicine was never mentioned as a …

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