A Career Involving Diabetes

So I graduated from a prestigious university with a degree in Engineering and have been working in the telecommunications world for about 15 years. The problem is, I just don’t find my work interesting or fulfilling anymore. I’ve become more interested in what people have to say than the technology and machines that carry those messages. The passion is gone. I’m ready for a career change.

Now, something like diabetes care is something I’m passionate about. I have a vested interest in people, people’s health, and people’s well-being. My interactions on TuDiabetes have (hopefully) demonstrated that. I’ve learned a ton about diabetes treatment and care, and also about the social “stigma” and the intrusions it has in our daily lives. (For those who saw what I wrote awhile back about my brother’s medical conditions, you know this isn’t limited just to diabetes). I’d love to impart that knowledge on others, and somehow make other people’s lives better.

Question is – how do I do that? I’m not formally trained in medicine (though I’ve been through the “school of hard knocks”), and my professional technical experience is in systems (cellular telephone networks), not products (like insulin pumps, meters, etc). I could design, in concept, a great insulin pump or blood glucose meter, but wouldn’t know how to build or manufacture it, not to mention deal with the regulatory requirements of medical devices. There are plenty of companies headquartered in my state – BD, Johnson & Johnson, who deal with diabetes care; surely there must be something for me?

Has anyone here turned their real-life diabetes experience into a career? Does “pumped insulin for 5 years, injected for 25 years” really work on a resume? How did you make that work?

Of course, there is also a moral dilemma here. While I’d love to earn a nice salary, I’d have a hard time making a living at the expense of someone who struggles to afford test strips.

Any advice or stories are appreciated.

One time I had a pump rep tell me he would hire me because I was so in touch with local doctors, clinics and pumps…but alas no medical degree. I have a published article online about what it takes to be a CDE and it’s a lot.
My other thought would be that you could become a rep for something…even the kids pump case companies use territorial reps. But do they make money? I dont know. Maybe by volunteering for something diabetes related, you could find your way into some ideas.
It’s a noble and good thought, but I think it might not be easy. Which is no reason to give up and quit!

You might start testing the waters by sending your resume with inquiry to BD, Johnson & Johnson & others. Never know until you try. Don’t send to HR, but to dept heads & follow up with phone calls. Most people are too passive about job hunting. Focus on your engineering strengths & your passion as a T1 to be involved with a company leader in diabetes care.

Don’t know if this interests you, but I bet pump reps make good money.

Applaud your goal! Keep us posted.

Ah, another Dr. Bernstein in the making! Best of luck with your career change. I did the same thing at age 42; that was 10 years ago, and I don’t regret my decision at all.

If you don’t mind me asking, what did you do - and what did you switch to? (and more importantly, how did you make the switch?). Thanks!

I am an attorney working in the medical device industry and there is tremendous need for engineers in this space. First, your telecommunications skills are transferrable. Qualcomm is doing a lot in the healthcare space – particularly in communicating health information. I see this developing in the diabetes area – e.g., cgms reporting wirelessly to health care providers. Outside of telecomm there are lots of other device opportunities. Companies I would suggest you explore: BD, B Braund medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, St. Jude. Bayer, McKesson, Cardinal Health, CareFusion, Smiths Medical, Philips, Convatec, Covidien, Danaher ---- that’s just a very few. Do searches on “medical device” – that’s the key term that will bring up a lot of those opportunities. Here is one search engine to get you started: http://www.meddevicejobs.com/ There is a ton of opportunity in this arena. If i can help you get a better picture of the industry, I’m happy to help in anyway I can. I’m passionate about this stuff.

engineer smaller pumps. Engineer smaller receivers for CGM devices. And I want a BG meter and lancet kit so small I gotta squint to see the numbers.

and BD is in Franklin Lakes. I went there once to participate in a focus Group on insulin pumps.

Yes, I’ve driven past BD many times. It’s actually not far from me (I did mention them above). Their role in diabetes care seems to have diminished over the years. And I think I remember a tagline they once used “BD: Better Diabetes care”. I believe they only make syringes and pen needles now. No more meters, no more glucose tabs… do they even make alcohol swabs anymore? I always look at them, but don’t know what I could do for them.

You’re preaching to the choir Joe. We’ve all got a wishlist, and hopefully I can demonstrate to one of the established diabetes care companies that I am in-tune to what their customer base really wants. But I’d need to be picked up by one of the established companies. I don’t have the business skills, nor the tolerance for the financial risk involved, to go at it alone!

Donna, thanks for the advice. I hope to find some time over the weekend to research this a bit more, and I may take you up on that offer. I learned that Bayer does their diabetes care out of Tarrytown, NY. It’s an hour drive from me (according to Google), but still worth considering. (Bayer also has a location in my town, and there are rumors of consolidation across the company). And BD is quite close as well, but as I wrote in a below comment to Marie, I’m not so sure how much they’re doing for diabetes these days. But I’ve got quite a bit of research to do. Thanks!

My father has a job he loves. I took a trip to the zoo with my family over the weekend, and you could tell by watching one of the zookeepers’ interactions with a sea-lion that she absolutely adores her job. We spend so much of our waking lives at work, that we should enjoy what we do.

I once had a job that I despised (working for a heartless tyrant), and I came home from work and ended up being a real jerk to my family, because that’s the mood I was always in. I hated who that was turning me into. If I can enjoy my time at work, I can be a happier person at home. It may be just a dream – a fantasy – but I’m turning it into a goal.

I actually know some of the lawyers who work for BD’s diabetes group. They are quite committed to the space. One thing to consider too with some of these larger medical device manufactures is that it’s about getting your foot in the door. So, even if you don’t get right in on diabetes stuff, get in wherever you can and then move when you find out about an opening in diabetes. Also, in addition to device there are diagnostics – also touches on diabetes in some companies. As for the commute - -you are right – for the right job it’s worth it. I live in the Philly are but my last job was in Chicago now I just took a position in Westchester County, NY. It’s a 2 hour commute but the drive is nothing (particularly compared to that Chicago gig) if you are doing what you love to do. I’m happy to help you with inside scoop on some of these companies. I know the medical device industry pretty well.

I miss their glucose tabs. Here is their Diabetes site http://www.bd.com/. You are right that they are really into needles, lancets, etc. But I think they the industry leader in that regard. One thing I like about BD is that they have a commitment to patient care and education.