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My medical writing experience Q & A

1. Why did you do it?

I decided to pursue a work placement in medical writing to further understand what the role involved and see if I liked it. I first heard about this role through a careers event the NBI hosted last year and through them arranged the placement via human resources team at CMC.

2. Where did you go?

I have spent four days at Complete Medical Communications (CMC) in Macclesfield, which is a leading global medical communications agency and a part of McCann Health.

3. What did you do?

  • Wrote a newsfeed, taking complex information from a journal article and transforming it into a concise but informative summary, following the same style that CMC uses when developing newsfeeds for clients.

  • A task where I had to look out for mistakes/differences in tables, text and graphs (testing my attention to detail).

  • A Q&A assignment relating to medical writing work/roles which was a learning task but also enhanced my ability to source information from the internet.

  • A task that involved comparing and contrasting information from the “summary of product characteristics” and “prescribing information”.

  • An e-learning module on Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry website to understand what they do and their relevance to healthcare professionals (HCPs), patients and the public.

  • Learnt about how CMC runs status calls with clients, providing insight into client interactions and project planning.

4. Who did you meet?

  • A “Scientific Development Director”

They spoke about CMC, their journey into medical writing and the role they currently have today. Each day they added value and a breadth of experience, ensuring our time at CMC was not wasted or forgotten.

  • A “Principal Medical Writer”

They explained the role of medical writing in more detail, showing us manuscripts, abstracts and posters that the company have supported authors and clients in developing, and which were presented at scientific congresses.

  • A “Scientific Director”

They spoke about their role but focused on a time when they would have to travel for work, noting the tight deadlines that are often involved.

  • A “Senior Medical Editor”

They outlined that editors support with grammar, references and so much more and if you are a conscientious person this would suit you! The editors really help to take writing to the next level, ensuring it is presentable for the client.

  • A “Studio Director”

In short they explained to us how their team in the creative studio take scientific content and turn it into something meaningful and memorable for the clients, patients and public.

  • A "Senior Editorial Co-ordinator”

I wasn’t too familiar with their role before but following the talk I can see how it certainly is supportive and they make the submission of manuscripts so much smoother. You do not need a science degree to do it, just to be IT literate.

  • A “Managing Scientific Director”

They very passionately spoke to us about their role in supporting clients, using their involvement in an upcoming workshop as an example.

5. What were your highlights?

I enjoyed the welcome lunch on the first day, visiting the digital studio, using the virtual reality/augmented reality technology and talking to all the different team members. These technological devices are often used at conferences or public engagement events to communicate how a drug works or talk about a disease in an engaging and memorable way. The graphics team with the company are in charge of creating this.

6. How can I find out more about CMC?

Good question, it would be best to visit their website here and read more about them.

7. Where can I find out more about the medical writing role, the interview writing tests and the career trajectory?

I found this website here very detailed and they provide other resources that you can explore too.

8. How can I find out about medcomms careers, build my writing skills or career events near me?

There are many useful websites out there; a website that was suggested to me was firstmedcommsjob.

9. When is the best time to apply for a medical writing job?

After talking to different medical writing teams, I was advised around 3-4 months before you are due to graduate/submit your thesis.

10. Where can I find information about salaries, flexible working and what employers are looking for? I would recommend this website here, where they give a lot of details about the average basic salary in the UK, work benefits, flexible working, training and freelancing.

11. Would you recommend a work placement to someone else?

YES!!!! I was still unsure of what medical writing really was and what they do so this mini placement (4 days) gave me an insight into the work involved, helping to confirm my decision to pursue it post-PhD. The team at CMC were lovely, so open to answering questions and advising me on the next steps to take.

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