It was Summer 1994; I had been a nurse for just over eight years and was beginning to feel I was losing my personal war against inequality of cancer care, when I decided to look for a full-time position in the pharmaceutical industry. It hadn’t been an easy decision or an obvious one for that matter, I had spent weeks soul searching, just to make sure I still had a soul to sell, to the Devil.
I had found the last eighteen months as an oncology nurse working in a district general hospital extremely challenging. I had learned some new things; like how to dodge a karate kick, cope with patients’ guilt ridden sons and daughters, oh and where to find their parents when they disappeared off the ward. (Which was usually at the bus stop just outside the hospital) On a more constructive note; I had also learned CPR to the highest level, which sadly, had never been my intention. It was time to re-think things and focus back on cancer.
Knowing that the largest amount of cancer research investment came from the pharmaceutical industry I figured it might be worth while taking a closer look. But what could I do for them? As luck would have it, Amgen (a large U.S. biotech company) were looking for a nurse advisor……..’I could do that’ I thought. ‘For a start I’d advise them to lower their prices!’ Yes, I’m afraid I was just as naive as everyone else.
The company was looking to hire two experienced oncology or haematology nurses to provide a free educational service to UK nurses working in oncology. Despite having an inherent aversion to public speaking, it didn’t take much for me to overlook such a trivial issue. As an NHS nurse it wasn’t difficult to be impressed by pharmaceutical company salaries and this job would come with a company car, complete with phone and a lap-top! How cool was that?
First though, I would have to be interviewed, which would entail a trip to their impressive UK office in the university town of Cambridge! Time to dig out my cancer books and re-familiarise myself with all things cancer and of course elephantiasis!
I didn’t own a computer in those days, so I was restricted as to what I could find out about my prospective employers . I knew they were a significant player in the world of bio-technology and that they had a new drug I couldn’t even spell……….and that was pretty much it. I had a week until my interview, so I could either use that time; to do as much research as possible, go and buy a suit, or figure out a way to bribe someone into giving me the job. Instead I chose to do neither. ‘Besides working in Pharmaceuticals was probably rubbish anyway, right?’………..
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