Similar to most people working in MedComms, I did not go to university with the intention of becoming a medical writer. In fact, when I went to university, I did not know what a medical writer was.
An interest in science led to a degree in biology, and then a summer lab placement inspired the decision to pursue a career in research. My journey continued with an MRes at Newcastle University and ended with an MPhil at the University of Edinburgh, where I realised early on that I was not suited for life in the lab. I was bored by the monotony of repeated experiments, frustrated by weeks of failed protocols and disillusioned with academia.
Like many biology undergraduates and research graduates, I was convinced that my career prospects beyond working in a lab were non-existent. Thankfully, after googling career opportunities that might align with my interest in science as well as the skills I had developed during my masters’ degrees, I came across MedComms.
My first foray into MedComms was as an account executive at Iceberg Medical, a small agency in Buckinghamshire. I gained experience in managing projects, planning events, liaising with designers, developing content, working with healthcare professionals and dealing with clients. It was the perfect introduction to MedComms as it gave me the opportunity to test my skills in different areas, which ultimately led me to medical writing.
At that point, I was a bit hesitant about becoming an ‘associate medical writer’ because the title did not necessarily scream variety or excitement, and the last thing I wanted was to be back where I started, doing the same thing every day but with a pen instead of a pipette. Fortunately, I learned shortly after starting at 90TEN that the title is a bit of a misnomer. The role is full of variety, and not just in terms of the type of writing I do.
For instance, on Monday I might write a scientific narrative, and then on Tuesday I may find myself creating a storyboard for an animation or developing the agenda for a symposium. Then, later in the week, I might conduct desktop research in a new therapy area in preparation for a pitch, brainstorm creative ways to communicate a new scientific concept, mentor junior writers or, as part of our behavioural science-led approach to the work that we do, conduct interviews with doctors to better understand their behaviour to enable me to develop content that will drive meaningful change. In short, the opportunities for a medical writer are endless.
Since starting in MedComms I have learned that my career in science did not have to end in the lab. MedComms presented the ideal alternative career path, allowing me to continue pursuing my passion for science and providing me with the opportunity to work with other like-minded people on projects that make a difference. A career in medical writing was not the initial plan, but it has turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
This personal profile first appeared in the FirstMedCommsJob careers guide, From academic to medical writer: a guide to getting started in medical communications, published March 2022.
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