As the biomedical industry continues to expand, so does Arthrex Inc. and its need for a specialized workforce. Students like TJ Biondolillo are also recognizing the need for more specialized education, especially when it comes to blending science and business.
“Both of the programs have helped my education immensely,” shared TJ Biondolillo, a senior majoring in biological sciences. “As a biology student, who for the first two years of college had the goal of one day attending dental school, until I shadowed a neighbor who does medical device sales, I had pretty much no selling experience.”
Arthrex announced plans for a new $69 million facility and the creation of 1,000 new jobs in Sandy Springs, South Carolina in 2017. Soon after the company, a global leader in the research, design and manufacturing of minimally invasive surgical technology, approached Clemson University with an educational partnership opportunity to help students develop the interdisciplinary skills to position them for success in the fast-growing orthopedic medical device field. The result was an educational pilot program designed with the needs of the global medical device industry in mind.
While proximity is helpful, as Clemson is less than 10 miles from the Sandy Springs location, the University met the needs of Arthrex because of its robust and innovative engineering, science and business programs.
Arthrex has since expanded its Clemson partnership. Working closely with External Affairs’ Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives (OCPSI) and academic leadership, it has created additional scholarships and two certificate programs. “Arthrex takes great pride in its commitment to education and we are pleased to help develop the next generation of highly skilled professionals like Arthrex Technology Consultants who work with orthopedic surgeons to provide trustworthy technical product support,” said Arthrex President and Founder Reinhold Schmieding.
The Sales Innovation Certificate Program (SIP) and Orthopedic Medical Device Product Specialist certificate programs are designed to enable students from any major to explore and succeed in medical device technology consulting. Through the programs, students gain knowledge of medical devices and techniques, and gain an introduction to the sales and marketing aspects of medical products. This, in turn, creates a strong pipeline to help support Arthrex’s growing needs in this area and is a direct result of the partnership developed by Clemson’s Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives.
More than 10 students in the Sales Innovation Certificate Program have been hired by Arthrex in the last two years.
“Through the strategic partnership with Arthrex, we have worked together to develop one-of-a-kind workforce development programs to support an integral partner need,” said Angie Leidinger, vice president of External Affairs for Clemson. “The success of the pilot programs has showcased the talent of our faculty and students, and we’re excited about the opportunity to continue engaging with Arthrex in mutually beneficial ways that will strengthen educational outcomes while providing them with top-tier talent.”
After learning about the certificate program, Biondolillo jumped at the opportunity to gain the targeted knowledge in medical device sales.
“The Sales Innovation Program has improved my selling skills and taught me the principles of being a great salesperson and the Orthopedic Device Product Specialist Program has improved my product knowledge from materials used in devices to diagnosing issues and being able to properly convey product benefits,” said Biondolillo”
The Sales Innovation Program coursework is tailored to develop students’ business acumen, selling frameworks and presentation ability in order to equip them for influential roles in health care and medical device sales or related positions. Through the program, students also partake in real-world challenges, foundational role-play exercises and leadership opportunities.
The Orthopedic Medical Device Product Specialist Certificate provides students with core competencies in the orthopedic medical device industry with a focus on managing a product throughout its life cycle, including product development and performance relevant to clinical use, and communication of its commercial value.
In addition to the certificate programs that provide students a pathway to learning about medical device sales, the Arthrex Scholars program will continue to provide scholarships to those same students.
The Arthrex Scholars program was announced in 2019 as a two-year pilot program, with the first scholarships awarded in 2020. For the second year, 15 students pursuing medical device sales careers will each receive $5,000 scholarships and a potential foot-in-the-door to a summer internship.
“Under the direction of Ryan Mullins, our Sales Innovation Program has shown an ability to connect students with companies like Arthrex that can potentially lead to sales careers with those organizations,” said Jennifer Siemens, Department of Marketing chair. “Arthrex’s investment as an Innovation Partner in our Sales Innovation Program helps students financially and potentially creates a pipeline to our best and brightest as their next generation of employees.”
Scholarship recipients are selected from students seeking the Orthopedic Medical Device Product Specialist Certificate and the Sales Innovation Program Certificate. The certificate programs and scholarships are designed to set students up for success entering the workforce in a medical device sales role. Biondolillo, who graduated in May, credits his employment to Arthrex and the certificate programs.
“In June, I will join Peerless Surgical (an Arthrex Sales Agency) in Charlotte, N.C. as an associate sales representative,” said Biondolillo.
Spring ’21 Arthrex Scholars:
T.J. Biondolillo, biological sciences; Isabelle Jahnke, marketing/women’s leadership; Allyson Stritch, marketing; Alexis Kaufman, marketing; Auburn Dantice, marketing; Maddie Moore, marketing; Tripp Tucker, marketing; Mary Miller, marketing; Brianna Sorrentino, marketing; Grace Gullion, marketing; Hannah Saunders, marketing; Alexia Gates, marketing; Anna Horner, health science; Samantha Moody, marketing; Madison Jenkins, marketing.
“I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in without Arthrex’s involvement in the Sales Innovation Program and the Orthopedic Medical Device Product Specialist Certificate Program. Being able to talk about my experiences in both SIP and the orthopedic device program gave me a huge leg up during the job interview process. I owe so much gratitude to Arthrex and Clemson for putting me in the best position to begin my career in the medical device industry.”
Managed by the Department of Marketing and the Sales Innovation Program team, applications open up during the Fall semester and are awarded the following Spring semester. Applicants must have completed MKT 4200 (professional selling course), or its successor; and be enrolled in either BIOE 3120 or MKT 4950, or their successor.
Arthrex also works with Clemson on several research projects, including a NanoScopeTM Surgical Imaging System Reprocessing Assessment with Bioengineering Associate Professor Melinda Harman. Student engagement goes beyond the certificate programs with internships and co-op placements for Clemson students.
Arthrex continues to build partnerships with local educational institutions in the South Carolina upstate region to help grow an advanced medical device manufacturing workforce. “With the successful recruitment of South Carolina talent we have achieved over the last two years we will continue to seek qualified personnel bringing our total employment to more than 1,000 by 2024,” said Kevin Grieff, Arthrex senior vice president of operations.
The Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives takes a holistic approach to engaging strategic corporate partners by providing a one-stop shop for business and industry, allowing them to seamlessly connect with Clemson. By going beyond traditional university partnerships, OCPSI builds mutually beneficial, customized programs and experiences for partners and finds unique ways to engage faculty, students and researchers in the pursuit of all things economic development.
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