After completing my PhD at the University of Bath, I landed a post-doc position at a small drug discovery company in Oxfordshire. Unfortunately I was made redundant within 18 months of starting my career as a research scientist. When I started to think about what to apply for next, I decided that I didn’t want to look for another lab-based job. I found lab work frustrating when experiments or equipment stopped working, and did not enjoy the repetitive nature of the day-to-day tasks I was involved in. I knew someone who had recently moved into medical writing and thought it sounded like an interesting way to move away from the bench while still using the knowledge and communication skills I’d gained in my PhD. I was a little apprehensive about moving to a desk-based job but decided to give it a go.
As I started to look for a job in medical writing, I discovered that there are quite a few medical writing and MedComms agencies based in and around Oxford. I sent speculative applications to a few local companies and, after an interview and a writing test, was lucky enough to be offered a job at Insight Medical Writing (now Certara Insight).
In my first few weeks and months as a medical writer I was introduced to the different types of regulatory documents and where they fit into the drug development process. Coming from a background in drug discovery, I had a lot to learn about the clinical side of drug development. Furthermore, we use client templates and editorial style guides in order to produce high-quality documents that are consistent with each client’s document format, something that I’d never had to think about before. As well as receiving excellent in-house training, I was able to attend European Medical Writers Association conferences where I completed workshops on various aspects of medical writing. It was also a great way to meet other writers and share experiences of documents, guidelines and clients, as well as exploring a different European city each year.
I’ve now been at Certara Insight for 14 years and have progressed from medical writer through senior and principal medical writing roles, to my current position as Associate Director, Regulatory Services Management. Thanks to the variety of products we work on and clients we work with, I’ve never been bored! I have had the opportunity to work on all types of regulatory documents, including non-clinical, clinical, submission and post-approval documents such as pharmacovigilance reports. As regulatory writers, we have to adapt to the new documents and guidelines that are introduced by the regulatory authorities, as well as adjusting to working with new clients and their different therapeutic areas. While timelines can be tight and clients demanding, I find there is a great sense of satisfaction in successfully delivering a final document. Above all, I really enjoy being able to write and talk about science with interesting and intelligent people, without having to spend long days in the lab performing the same experiments over and over again.
I’m so glad I made the switch from scientist to medical writer. Fourteen years after taking the leap, I really can’t imagine myself doing anything else!
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