“The surest way to get into medical writing is by being proactive and ‘networking’ with people in the industry as very few graduate schemes are available”. Realistic advice from Juliane Klien, PhD, a medical writer working for Ogilvy Healthworld who spoke to my class on what her job entails.
Medical writers bridge the gap between the pharmaceutical companies and doctors, academics, the public etc. They prepare everything from abstracts and scientific papers to videos, websites and patient support materials.
We got to compare an infographic video on the biology of prostate cancer, and a promotional video on a new drug (Yay! We got an exclusive) which is meant to slow the spread of the cancer; both done by medical writers.
As a medical writer you’d get to liaise with people in advertising, market access, clinical trial recruitment, media etc. as you could be managing everything for the launch of a drug, from conference presentations to materials for government regulators.
Medical writers have high job security as pharmaceutical companies always need to sell drugs and outsourcing their medical writing is easier than doing it in-house. However, some downsides are the incomprehensible jargon used in science, managing difficult clients and changing industry areas as clients change.
To get a job in medical writing you’ll need a life science PhD, sorry it’s not exactly a ‘graduate’ job. You’ll also need good commercial awareness, attention to detail, interpersonal and computer skills.
So, if you have all these maybe you should give it a go!