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When applying for any role, it’s a great idea to do some research prior to submitting your CV. To help, we’ve put together a checklist - with handy hints and tips - explaining what you need to know before applying as a medical sales representative with Ashfield in the UK.

Thinking of applying for a medical sales representative position? Here’s all you need to know…

Research the company

To be successful with any job application, you’ll need to do some research into the company itself – and Ashfield is no different!

When researching Ashfield, you may come across the term CSO (contract sales organisation) and wonder what this is, and how it works. Essentially, this means that you are employed by us but you will work on behalf of specific clients of ours. There’s a common misconception that the roles aren’t permanent. With Ashfield, this isn’t true unless the recruiter states that the role is a fixed-term contract. We have permanent employees that have been with the same clients for many years now working through Ashfield.

Ashfield is a global business, offering services across 50 countries, with offices in 22. We offer a wide range of services, and the role of medical sales representative sits within our Commercial business in the UK.

Read through our website to gain a better understanding of what we do, our values, and our company mission – look out for the Ashfield Way to understand more about what it’s like to be a part of Ashfield.


ABPINow for the acronyms! The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is the key regulating body for all pharmaceutical companies and is an integral part of the way that Ashfield operates. The term “ABPI” refers to both the voluntary organisation and the exam that you will be required to take. You will need to research here to understand more about the importance of the ABPI and the requirements of the examination.

If you are interested to understand more, you can also view the ABPI’s complete code of practice by following this link.


NICE - National Institute for Health and Care ExcellenceIn England, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidance to all healthcare professionals (GPs, doctors, nurses etc.) on many different aspects of healthcare, including prescription drug use and disease areas. Their recommendations have a huge impact on the pharmaceutical industry and it is worth researching NICE further to understand more about who they are and why they are in place.


NHSClinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are NHS organisations created to organise the delivery of services across England. These are made up of different healthcare professionals who put together a list of preferred prescription drugs for a vast amount of therapy areas. This group will cover a specific geographical area – any surgeries in this area will consult the recommendations on a daily basis.

Knowing the strategy and challenges of surgeries and CCGs within a pharmaceutical representative’s territory is very important. You can read more here and this would be a good topic to talk to a medical sales representative about.

Talking to a medical sales representative

For an overview of an average day, please read our blog, “A day in the life of a medical sales representative” -it’s an honest account by a real representative who has graduated recently.

However, no one account can reflect all the variety that comes with the role or give you answers to all your questions. It’s great to actually speak with a representative and ask their take on the role. You will find that different people have different views on what the role is like – and how it suits them.

Thinking of applying for a medical sales representative position? Here’s all you need to know…

Primary vs. secondary care

Put simply, primary care HCPs are the first point of contact for patients such as GPs, family practitioners and nurse practitioners. Secondary care is when specialists become involved – usually in a hospital environment – where patients have been referred to them.

The different sectors within medical sales 

The term “medical sales” can be confusing as it covers a broad variety of role titles and sectors. The two that are most commonly open to graduates are pharmaceutical and devices:

  • Pharmaceuticals will mainly involve the promotion of prescription medicines and is usually the only sector in which you will need to take the ABPI qualification.
  • Devices is more equipment and instrument based. In some device roles, “the sell” will be different in that you will have a tangible product to sell to the customer. So these can be orders that are taken on the day. Within devices, customers are often predominantly within a hospital environment. This may even involve going in to surgical theatres whilst your product is being used.

Syndicated vs. dedicated

If you have already begun looking at the position of a medical sales representative, you may have come across both syndicated and dedicated roles. So what is the difference is between them?

The main difference with these two types of roles is that syndicated positions are directly managed by Ashfield (not by our client). As a syndicated representative, you will be responsible for three or four products for different clients, whilst dedicated is working for one client specifically and selling products on their behalf.

If you would like any more details on this, we have a handy blog that explains this difference further.

You’re set!

If you’ve read this article and followed the links to do some of your own research, you’ll come across really well in the assessment process. You’ll have a good understanding of our company, the role and some of the key organisations and terms. If you have any questions, please get in touch using the details below and we’d be happy to answer your questions.

If you’re successful, there’s lots more to learn about the role and the products you’ll be promoting – but don’t worry! We have a fantastic internal training team who will take care of all that, with comprehensive and tailored training to match your needs and experience.

Ready to join the team?

Our UK Commercial and Clinical business has a dedicated recruitment team based at our Head Office in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. They would love to hear from you and will happily answer any of your questions. You can contact them using the details below, or click the link below to look at our current vacancies:

Click here to view our current vacancies






Phone: 01530 562 476

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