There are times and cases wherein children grow up without their parents. There are multiple reasons for that, but in our guest, Kent Picklesimer, it is due to his work. Kent has been a podiatrist for 16 years and realized that pursuing his career limits his time with his family. This was the biggest factor that made Kent leave his practice and shift to being a medical sales representative. Now, he is a sales representative at a surgical instrumentation company. Listen and learn Kent’s humbling journey in the medical sales field.
We have with us another fascinating guest. He goes by the name of Dr. Kent Picklesimer. Some of you might know him as a practicing physician or a sales rep for a medical device company. He is one of the few individuals that has experienced both sides. If you are someone that wants to get into the industry, this is an episode you want to read. If you are already in the industry, you want to read this episode.
If you are leading the way, this is something again that you want to read. For those providers out there that have tuned in, you definitely want to read because Dr. Kent Picklesimer has led quite an interesting life with quite an interesting tale but I’m not going to spoil any of it. I’m going to save it all for the interview. This is going to be part one. As always, thank you for reading. I do hope you enjoy this interview.
Kent, how are you doing?
I’m doing great, Samuel.
We have with us Kent, who has a special story to tell. I’m going to let you do the honors. Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself?
My name is Kent Picklesimer. I’m contacting you from Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been in Charlotte for many years. I work as a Territory Sales Manager for a lower extremity surgical instrumentation company. I have been with the company for a few years and continuing to grow in the area.
The thing about Kent that some of you might not know is that he has been on both sides of the industry. He was a physician before he became a sales rep. I know that’s a surprise to a lot of people. Talk to us a little bit about that. What were you doing before you became a sales rep?There comes a moment when you realize that there are some things missing in your life. Click To Tweet
I practiced for about sixteen years as a podiatrist. I went to the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, where I received a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. Subsequently, I did a three-year surgical residency at Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia, followed by a fellowship at Georgetown Medical University. After completing my education there, I practiced in the Washington area for about six years. My family and I made a move to Charlotte, where I continued to practice for an additional ten years leading up to my transition into surgical instrumentation sales.
This is the million-dollar question. When did you even consider it? As you are practicing, you are a provider. You have your own practice doing your thing. When did you say, “I’m curious about getting onto that side?” Tell us that story.
I don’t think it was as much of a motivation to get into surgical sales or medical sales. It came from the opposite direction. After being in practice for some time, I realized that there were some things that I was missing in my life, particularly with my family. I’m fortunate I have a beautiful family, a wife, and three children. The notion of being a medical practitioner, particularly for younger individuals, comes with it this certain level of nostalgia and prestige. Physicians for a long time have been held in that manner or light.
As I continued to practice, I realized that all of this education and training that I had been through was certainly meaningful and worthwhile. On that note, I was missing my family’s growth, particularly my children. That was the real onus behind why I decided to try to look at alternatives within the medical field that might give me some more flexibility to spend with my family and participate in life.
For those that are reading that might not know, can you give us a little bit about what type of schedule you did have as a provider that led you down this road of wanting to look at different options?
Immediately out of school, I came on board with a group that covered two different hospital systems in the Washington area. On a daily basis, Monday through Friday, we see patients in the office from 8:00 to 5:00. On top of that, we took the call at two different hospital systems. On most days, I would start my day by trying to get into the hospital by 6:00 or 6:30 and round on patients in the morning and then try to get to the office to look through my patient schedule for the day. During some of those days, I was required to go back to the hospital to check on patients that were being admitted through the ER and also to do rounds on patients at the other hospital systems.
After finishing patients, oftentimes, I would go back to the hospital again to check on patients and/or perform surgeries if that was required. My days extended from roughly 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 or 7:00 at night. I was lucky to get home by 8:00. With that being said, even therein, there were days when I wouldn’t see my kids for 3 or 4 days in a row because I wouldn’t be home before they went to bed. That’s not to say that all my days are like that. I don’t want to paint a dismal picture by any means but that was not terribly uncommon.
Was it somewhat of a defining moment that you experienced and said, “This has to stop. I need to look into doing something different?” Has this been brewing for a number of years and somebody brought it to your attention that you could go that route? What made the change?
That was brought about by watching my family, seeing the things that they were doing, and realizing that I wasn’t there. My wife was very instrumental in helping me make that transition. She is super supportive. She was my biggest advocate. It was a tough transition. You would be surprised at the number of providers that are interested in pursuing alternative careers in medicine outside of practice. With my own journey, I did a lot of research and found that there were tremendous numbers of support groups and outreach programs for providers that could help them with these types of transitions. It was a slow culmination of things that led me to that notion and ultimately led me to where I am now.
From wanting to make the jump to actually doing it, how much time passed?Look through alternatives within the medical field that might give you some more flexibility to spend with your family and participate in life. Click To Tweet
As crazy as this sounds, I stopped work on March 31st and started my new career on April 1st. I left my office and the following morning, I was on a plane to my new job.
Have you been planning it for a little while?
Yes, that is true. It took me some time to find the right position. Honestly, it wasn’t something that I said, “I’m going to stop the practice and conversely go into medical sales,” rather, “I’m going to stop the practice. What are the availabilities or options for me for a career path?”
You wanted to look for a new career path. You knew you were going to stop practicing and then you decided, “What can I do?” Knowing that you wouldn’t be working for a little while, I see and then this is when the opportunity came about. Did somebody bring it to your attention? Did you think of a previous rep or sales manager you experienced and say, “Let me call him and talk to him about an idea I have?” Did you say, “I’m going to explore becoming a sales rep?”
Immediately upon deciding and making that mental transition, I’m saying to myself, “I’m going to stop practicing because you can say a lot of things but until you do it, it doesn’t come into reality.” When I talked to my partners and said, “This is what I’m doing,” it became real. At that point, I said, “Where am I going with this?” I had this as a notion. Being a practitioner for sixteen years, I saw a lot of medical sales reps come and go through my office. We can talk about this a little bit more.
I always looked at the medical sales force as a benefit for me in that they kept me sharp on the latest technologies and pharmaceuticals. There are certainly some physicians who don’t see medical sales reps in this light but the smart and savvy ones do, in which case they take advantage of the knowledge that the medical sales reps are bringing to them.
I considered the medical sales reps as part of my team. Granted, they were each a niche part of that team. I held them in fairly high regard. When I decided to leave practice, I thought to myself, “I can continue to use my knowledge and what I have learned but use it on a different level or platform where I’m not helping patients but I’m trying to help providers to perform better and excel in what they are doing.”
What did your colleagues say when you decided to make it real?
A lot of them said, “Are you kidding me? You went to school and practiced all these years. You did this training, residency, and fellowship. Are you going to throw that out the window?” I said, “No, I’m not throwing that out the window.” I look at life in general with this regard, “All things that I have done in my life, both good and bad, were experiences who have made me who I am.” I don’t regret what I did. I enjoyed the practice and treating patients. I certainly miss that. My colleagues could not wrap their heads around that why I would do that. People said, “Are you taking time off? Are you going to go start up a different practice?” They couldn’t believe that I was transitioning into a different role like that.
I can only imagine but you did it. You made it real. You are a sales rep now. Give us the first few months. What was the experience like? Tell us everything.When you leave a practice, not everything goes to waste. You can still use your knowledge and keep your learnings with you. Click To Tweet
I don’t want to sound pompous by any means. For me, it was humbling. I always tell people, “You have to check your ego at the door because I went from walking into a surgical center or hospital. As a physician, you are treated differently from other people in those facilities.” When I went in with this new hat, I said, “I’m a sales rep. I had to be comfortable with that fact. I can no longer have access to the facilities like I did. I needed to be respectful of the administration and staff.”
It’s not that I ever was not but this was a different role that I was playing. For the first couple of months, it was eye-opening and humbling to be in this different role. It’s not just with the facilities but also with the provider’s offices, in which case I was trying to gain access and talk to people that I once could easily do that with and now I couldn’t. There was a learning curve.
You walked into accounts that you already had relationships with as a physician. I would like to believe that it was advantageous to you. Even though you are in a different role now, they still said, “That’s Dr. Picklesimer. That’s him, so we can accept him in.”
Interestingly, I made this decision on my own. I don’t advertise that I was ever in practice and that I was a provider. I don’t advertise that to hospitals, surgical center administrations, and other providers. New providers that I meet that I’m working with, I don’t advertise it to them as well. People say, “Why not? You should tell them that that’s who you are.” If somebody says, “What do you do for a living? What is your job?” I say, “I’m a medical sales rep for a surgical instrumentation company.”
That’s what I tell them. I was a practicing podiatrist but that’s not who I am now. That is not my role. I don’t hang my hat on that. I want people to appreciate me for my current role. After speaking with people, they recognize that I do have a little bit more of a knowledge base and hopefully will be an asset to them. I don’t tell them that unless they inquire.
Some of these accounts already knew this. They recognize, “This is Dr. Picklesimer. We know we’ve got to let him in. This is who he is. Get in here.” I’m assuming that had to work in your favor.
That does help me out in particular accounts and providers who I have known for years. It has given me a leg up.
When you are working with them in surgery, I’m assuming that even though you have presented yourself as a sales rep and you say, “I’m here to help and be of assistance in any way I can with this product and this case with this procedure,” I would assume that they will still look at you as an advisor beyond a sales rep and as a clinician because of the relationship they already had with you. Does that still happen?
I don’t think that’s necessarily particular only in my situation. I tell my partners and colleagues that I interact with, “When you are a provider and you are in the operating room, you are performing a procedure. It’s just you. You are making all of the decisions. You are taking risks and difficulties into play.” It’s very comforting to know that you have a medical sales rep in the room that is watching you closely and watching what you do, and that is knowledgeable about what you are doing. They don’t have to be a provider or somebody that has some tremendous history with medicine. They just need to know their product and what they are there to help with or what they are selling.
I talk to my colleagues and say, “If you are a pilot flying a passenger plane, regardless of how many times you have done that, it’s always nice to know that you’ve got a co-pilot in the seat next to you in case something happens or something goes wrong.” The same thing holds true. If you are a provider performing surgery, you want to know that somebody else is in the room that is watching you, paying attention, and is there to help and advise you. In my particular situation, it’s helpful with my past experience but it’s not something that is necessarily particular just for me.
What is particular just for you? If there are any, give us the stark differences between the traditional sales rep and a sales rep that comes from your level of experience. In how providers receive you, what have you noticed and seen that are stark differences?
That was part one with Dr. Picklesimer. It’s pretty interesting. It’s not every day that you see someone that came from the practicing side to the sales representative side. The level of expertise he brings is profound. I know that when his accounts see him, it must be quite a treat. You might be reading this episode and thinking to yourself, “This is very interesting and something I want to be closer to.” If you are someone that wants to get into the medical sales industry, maybe it’s a medical device, pharmaceutical, biotechnology or something a little different, then make sure you visit EvolveYourSuccess.com and follow the prompts.
Fill out the application and have a conversation with someone that can help you find where you should be and give you the exact steps to get there. We do our best to bring you episodes that are going to bring different insights to the industry and give you experiences of people that you might not be used to. We do our best to bring this to you every single week. Make sure you tune in for another episode of the show and especially tune in for part two.
After more than 15 years of experience and practice in the field of podiatric medicine in April of 2019 I transitioned away from clinical practice and joined Treace Medical Concepts. My decision was rooted in the drive and desire to have an impact in the foot and ankle industry with an innovative surgical instrumentation system that will revolutionize foot and ankle surgery; Lapiplasty.