By the time I’d reached the final year of my PhD in pharmacology, it became clear to me that the mornings when I woke with a spring in my step were those when I was preparing for a conference talk or poster presentation, not a day of experiments. While I had a genuine passion for my PhD project, continuing lab research just wasn’t something I could see myself doing.
When looking for career options I searched further afield than the traditional post-doc positions. I became so eager to work out what I might be best suited to that I organised a departmental careers seminar, and it was there that I first heard the words “medical writing”. A quick Google search led me to the firstmedcommsjob.com website. I recall grinning as I read through the list of common characteristics of a medical writer, all of which resonated with me.
Shortly afterwards, I attended a MedComms careers event where I spoke with the team at Insight Medical Writing (now Certara Insight). After this introduction to regulatory medical writing, I applied to become a regulatory writer, and following a successful interview and writing tests, gladly accepted the position.
I have now been at Certara Insight for just over 3 years, and during that time I have been able to work on a wide variety of documents with multiple clients, initially under the guidance of a more senior writer. This hands on experience, supplemented with in-house training and attendance at courses run by the European Medical Writers Association, has enabled me to learn quickly and I feel confident taking the lead on an increasing number of complex projects.
While there continues to be a lot to learn, what I hadn’t realised was just how transferable the skills I’d learnt at university would be. Incorporating the thoughts of my three PhD supervisors into my thesis was challenging at times – now I work with large, multidisciplinary teams; and integrating their comments to generate a high-quality, coherent document is a large part of my job. I’d also spent most of my PhD managing time-critical experiments alongside teaching responsibilities and preparing for lab meetings and conferences. This taught me to prioritise tasks and manage my time efficiently, a skill I use every day as a regulatory writer.
Regulatory writing has provided me with the opportunity to be at the forefront of research across multiple therapy areas and I enjoy being able to contribute towards the successful development of novel therapies by the accurate communication of clinical research. Sometimes it can be daunting to work alongside physicians and scientists who are experts in their field, but it’s also fascinating to see the diverse research that is going on – I’m able to quench my scientific curiosity without stepping foot in the lab!
This personal profile first appeared in the FirstMedCommsJob careers guide, A writer’s role in drug development: a guide to getting started in regulatory medical writing, published August 2022