Chatting with Beverley Swain, Freelance Medical Writer


Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Freelance Medical Writer, Beverley Swain

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I fell into MedEd by accident. After working for a Pharma company for 10 years in research information and then intellectual property information, I moved to a company supplying information and data to Pharma companies. After an unhappy move to another such company, I quit intending to look for another full-time job, but freelancing while looking. In a happy accident, a former colleague gave my name as a referee to someone in a MedEd company who just happened to be a school friend that I’d lost touch with. That’s how my freelance MedEd career started – thanks to my old friend Krys. And I’ve never looked back – or for that permanent job.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Providing a client with the best possible, scientifically accurate output and preferably getting it ‘right first time’. I’m pretty good at cutting word counts. I was once presented with a draft peer-review article that was over 7000 words, the target journal maximum word count was 2500. That’s when I got the nickname Bev ‘slash and burn’ Swain!

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Explaining to clients that they can’t say what they want, either because the science doesn’t back it up or because it’s against guidelines. Sometimes it’s just plain wrong!

What’s the funniest memory and/or highlight of your career so far?

I can’t recall a single highlight, although there are a few projects I’m quite proud of. One of the funniest times was working with Krys on a White paper that had been written and edited by several different people. Krys had taken it on and asked me to help her with it. What a nightmare. The references didn’t match the statements in the paper and it took ages to sort them out. The Agency had asked for and received permission to reproduce a figure from a journal article, but the figure wasn’t in the article. I read that article at least five times getting more confused each time and then we had to find where the figure came from. The only thing that kept us going was laughing so much at how the project had got into such a state. Marking up the paper and references also had us in stitches. In parts, it read like a ransom note. Later, we heard that the Pharma company had said it was best marked-up paper they’d ever had!

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Well, obviously someone amazingly glamourous and intelligent. Once when out with colleagues we were discussing this and the general consensus was that Alison Steadman should play me.

What would your key tasks in a typical working day be?

Key tasks are switching on the computer and making lots of cups of coffee.

Thanks, Beverley. Have a great #MedComms Day!


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