Getting started in medical communications: what’s it like to be an associate medical writer?
Leia, Hayley and Sam joined the Bioscript team as Associate Medical Writers in October 2019. Find out more about their experiences over the past year below.
I started a Biochemistry BSc (Hons) degree at the University of Liverpool in 2010 and subsequently found myself naturally following the Master’s–PhD–postdoc route due to my love for science and drive to learn more. I attended a MedComms Networking event during the final stages of the laboratory-based element of my PhD, simply to learn more about an industry that I had heard of but knew little about. I was delighted to learn that there was an industry looking for people with my skills, but I had not done any full-time writing so was unsure if it would be something that I would enjoy.
Fast-forward to writing my PhD thesis a few months later, I could not understand why my friends found it so difficult – granted, I loved what I was writing about (which is not something all PhD students can say) – but seeing my research come to life on paper meant that all the hard work was worthwhile! I wanted to work in an area with greater impact and combined with my love for writing, I knew that a career in medical communications was perfect for me.
The thing that drew me to Bioscript was the friendly, supportive environment. This was especially important to me since I was transitioning into a new industry. I started working on real client projects straight away with the support of senior writers and the wider team. The number of projects I am responsible for has naturally increased as I have progressed, and I now lead the delivery of congress materials and manuscripts on several drugs. I love the fast pace of the job; no two days are ever the same!
I feel that my experience writing and speaking about my PhD research to a variety of audiences helped my transition into medical writing. Transferable skills, such as juggling multiple projects and adapting to changing priorities, are equally important! Communicating with clients, working with standard operating procedures and thinking about budgets was, of course, all new to me but they are skills I am picking up ‘on the job’ and through regular training sessions.
I was extremely proud to be promoted to Medical Writer in December 2020 and I am excited to continue to learn and progress at Bioscript!
After completing my studies and working as a Research Assistant, I quickly realised that research was not the right fit for me. I preferred looking for ways to better communicate research to different audiences, using skills other than scientific knowledge alone. While working as a Research Assistant, I attended an event where I was introduced to the world of medical communications, and the industry sounded ideal for me. I was looking for a career that integrated scientific knowledge with creativity and was more fast paced than research. I had the opportunity to chat with a few Medical Writers and their work sounded very exciting; I quickly investigated more to find out what background was required to have such a career.
I started my first job as an Associate Medical Writer at Bioscript in October 2019, after completing a 1-year course in Science Communication. A few months into the job, and I quickly realised that no two days would ever be the same. The job is fast-paced and highly variable, and there is much to learn and experience. Seeing projects from idea through to a tangible client deliverable has been incredibly rewarding, and I feel like I am using more than scientific knowledge to create pieces of work, which is one of the most exciting aspects for me.
I have been exposed to different therapy areas and, interestingly, these have been from diseases that I never heard of before! Every piece of work in medical communications is incredibly important and I feel that even more so in rare diseases, which is the main account I work on. During my time as an Associate Medical Writer, I have worked on congresses (my personal favourite), manuscripts, abstracts, posters, presentations and advisory boards. I was really looking forward to going onsite for my first congress last year; however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we delivered our first virtual satellite symposium instead! Because of the virtual aspect, most of my team members were new to this experience as well and it was very rewarding to learn together how to operate this new way of working.
What I enjoy the most about being a medical writer is the variety of the work and exposure to different deliverables. I feel like I learn something new every day, and this makes it all worth it! My first year in medical communications has been a great introduction to the industry. I feel supported at Bioscript and really enjoy working with an interesting bunch of people with different educational backgrounds – we all have something to offer, and I can’t think of many industries where this is the norm! I look forward to continuing to progress and learn more at Bioscript in the upcoming months.
Following the completion of my PhD in Structural Biology and a short Research Associate post, both at the University of Sheffield, I decided on a career change into medical communications. I enjoy writing and have a great interest in the communication of medical research, and how that can influence healthcare and affect patient outcomes, so for me, a career in medical communications seemed a natural fit.
During the first couple of weeks at Bioscript, the other new Associate Medical Writers and I met with our new colleagues from different departments to get to know their roles within the company, as well as getting to grips with the day-to-day activities of working in medical communications. We also attended the company ‘away day’, where we learned more about Bioscript’s recent achievements and got to know our colleagues further as we raced drones and chariots.
The numerous training courses throughout my first year have helped me to understand more about drug development and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the more practical side of the medical writer’s role in developing different deliverables, such as abstracts and posters.
Since joining Bioscript, I have worked on a number of different projects such as manuscripts and slide decks across a range of different therapy areas including oncology, vaccines and urology. I have also had the opportunity to work on a systematic literature review. This project has been a great experience and allowed me to develop and utilise several skills (including project management and organisational skills) to prepare different types of documents.
I was lucky enough to start at Bioscript while we were still in the office, but I have now spent longer out of the office than in it due to the COVID-19 pandemic! However, training in the sciences prepares you for dealing with the unexpected and Bioscript rose to the challenge by providing equipment to ensure we could work from home without missing a beat, while virtual team meetings and coffee breaks (with snacks through the post!) mean that we can all keep in touch with each other.