Archive for the ‘Freelancing’ Category

Hello from sunny Sydney

June 8, 2016

Ruth Hadfield is a freelance medical writer working in Australia (and you are the first Australian medical writer to post Ruth!)

I started the day with good intentions of being the first Australian medical writer to post, but it’s now after 2pm now and I’m left wondering where the day has gone.

I have enjoyed reading the earlier posts from New Zealand. I am also a freelancer who works from home, so can relate to the posts by both Lyndal and Geri.  Most days I absolutely love the lifestyle, but occasionally I do have a day where I wish I had colleagues to chat with.  My methods of coping include getting out to group exercise and hiking classes where there is always somebody to chat to, and talking to my cat!  Oh, and did I mention copious cups of coffee and tea. I have two teenagers and sometimes think I need the entire day to gather the strength to cope with the onslaught when they both walk through the front door!

Projects I am working on right now include a systematic review on venous thromboembolism, cardiology e-news articles for a specialist audience and I have the first meeting for a new project reviewing the literature on asthma/copd tomorrow.  Medical writing is always interesting and stimulating as the topics you work on are so varied. There is always something new to learn.

To get out of the office today I had a quick 8km hike around Middle Harbour – a beautiful spot near where I live.  We had a huge storm in Sydney over the weekend so it is lovely to see the sun shining again.


Hoping for sunshine and internet connectivity

June 7, 2016

Catherine Rees, Freelance writer expressing the concern we’re all preoccupied with these days – will our internet connection work?

It’s not too cold here in Auckland today, but it looks like it’s going to rain (as it does almost every day in winter in this city). I’m a freelancer, and most of my clients are overseas (mainly Australia, Singapore, USA or UK), but I’m currently working on some advisory board minutes for a New Zealand pharmaceutical company. It’s nice to hear familiar accents on the audio! Later on, I plan to finalise the draft of a paper that some colleagues and I wrote on trends in Southeast Asian publications – we presented the poster at ISMPP 2015, and have recently updated the data and done some more analyses. All the while I’m hoping not to lose our internet connection because new cables are being installed in our street (see picture), and it screwed with the phone line last week. Once work is done, our family is going out for dinner to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, so a night off cooking as well. There is much to enjoy on this MedComms Day.


Those boots are made for…

June 7, 2016

Lyndal Staples, another freelance medical writer in New Zealand, has also started her day.

It’s a hello from me from sunny Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. I’ve just dropped the kids off at day care and am about to kick off my day with some work on airway management.

I’ve been a freelance medical writer for four years now.  I can’t fault it for flexibility, but it’s a lonely existence and I definitely miss having people to talk to through the day. Lately I’ve started thinking about ditching the home office (slash laundry) and hiring out office space in town. I have a (non-MedComms) friend who does it and she raves about the nice surroundings, the flash coffee machine, the proximity to cafes and restaurants, and the other people to chat to. It doesn’t come cheap though, and I just can’t decide if the expense is worth it. I’m curious to know if other freelancers have gone down this route, and how they’ve found it.

Anyway, I’ve captured a few shots of the things that will get me through my day… My computer (obvs!), some sunshine, a cup of coffee, the log burner and my winter boots. I like to think of these boots as my corporate wardrobe…  (My husband continues to be horrified that I bought an Australian product made of Australian wool!)

Hello to all the other MedComms people out there, wherever you are. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing around the globe as the day progresses.


Staying roasty toasty

June 7, 2016

As the working day starts in chilly New Zealand, here’s our first contribution from Mark English, Freelance Writer.

My day started with a few loud stabs of the keyboard as I posted my first tweet about #Medcomms Day 2016. With the important stuff out of the way, I made myself a coffee and lit the log burner as it is the middle of winter here in Wanaka, Central Otago, and it is a little nippy in the home office. However the ski season starts on Saturday (every cloud…).

As a freelancer, I am currently working on some long-term e-learning projects for a portfolio of haematological oncology therapies. I love this work as it combines high science with creativity and strategic thinking. I had a catch up call with my client in the UK via Skype last night (UK Tuesday morning/ NZ Tuesday evening) in which I gave them a progress update. We also discussed some recent data from the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, which has just finished. We decided that I would review the data this morning, and if relevant and not too preliminary, I would include it to the module I am working on.

Today I will be finishing off the current module I am working on. I will also start packing for my trip to the UK next week in which I will be catching up with family and clients. I don’t expect any surprises today, but you never know…

I would love to share a screenshot showing the funky mechanism of action script I am working on, but given it is confidential information, I thought I would share a picture of my log burner which is keeping me roasty toasty right now!


Meanwhile, back over in North Carolina…

June 10, 2015

Bonny P McClain, Freelance health economics and medical writer is researching at Duke University Durham NC for her new book, Alzheimer’s Disease: The Brand


Interim work

June 10, 2015

This in from Freelance Medical Writer, Jane Tricker.

I have always combined freelancing with occasional interim work, and I am currently working under contract with an academic research institute based in London, UK. Although I’ve been working from home today, I am usually based in the office – I have to say that the commuting has been a bit of shock to the system!

Most of the interim work that I have done has been to cover maternity leave. In this case, however, the need for an additional writer was driven by a huge upturn in the volume of publications required to disseminate data accumulated from a huge global registry that the institute is running.

Today, my two colleagues and I have been revising slide decks for the ISTH meeting at the end of June, liaising with our colleagues in the stats department to draw down the data that steering committee members need for the manuscripts that they are authoring, drafting and revising manuscript outlines based on the plethora of meetings and TCs that we had last week, and reviewing PR materials that will be used to promote the institute’s presence at ESC in August.

It’s been interesting to work in an academic environment and to be working amongst a completely different set of workmates (in addition to the statisticians and SAS programmers working in my office, there are clinical trial associates and data managers working in the office next door). I’m learning a lot – and for me that’s the beauty and the benefit of interim work.

Photo: Items a freelancer wouldn’t normally carry


Taking MedComms with you – wherever you go

June 10, 2015

Freelance Medical Writer, Sarah Smith, writes in from her floating office which is (currently) in Trinidad. Live the dream for us, Sarah!

The sun has been up about an hour and my working day has just started.

Last year I checked in to A Day in the Life of MedComms from my mobile office (SY CAPE at anchor on the Caribbean island of Grenada) using a wi-fi booster to connect to the internet. This year I am still on SY CAPE and still in the Caribbean, but on a mooring ball in the busy port of Chaguaramas in Trinidad, logging on to the internet via the mobile data function on my smart phone.

Connection technology has leapt forward in the last year (well it has for me, anyway) – I now get 4G internet access using a pay-as-you-go data plan on the local mobile phone network and can use the mobile hotspot function to broadcast this around the boat office for David and the kids to log on too. This means that I can get internet wherever there is a mobile phone signal (which is many idyllic anchorages not covered by wi-fi signals, unlocked or otherwise) and keep working. Not only that, but I have a dual-SIM phone that takes two SIM cards. I no longer have to carry around two phones – one for my UK number and one for my local number (or, more importantly, remember to keep two phones charged and remember where I put the other one). Unfortunately, I think that this means that my phone is now much smarter than me…

Anyway, today I am working on an outline for a manuscript for submission to a peer-review journal for a regular client based in the Netherlands. The wet season in Trinidad is just around the corner – by lunchtime it will be 32 degrees C here in my sweat-box office. The location might be exotic, hot and steamy, but the job doesn’t change. MedComms can be a portable career if you want it to be!


A good walk refreshes the brain cells

June 10, 2015

Another medical writer, this time Ruth Hadfield over in Australia, making good use of the flexibility that comes with freelancing. Shame about the weather though.

Good afternoon from Sydney, Australia! It’s a wet, cold and wintery day here. My day started at 6am in order to get my two daughters off to school. They were both out of the house by 7.30am and I sat down to work on a systematic review that has been taking up most of my time for the past month or so. I am at the full text review and data extraction phase of this project and I feel like I am making slow progress.

Wednesdays I go to ‘Trek Training’ with a group of like-minded women. This involves 2 hours of bush walking, carrying a 10kg pack and lots of hills. As a freelancer working at home alone most of the time, this provides me with company and a break from the desk. Sydney has a huge number of beautiful bush trails and it is a wonderful way to explore this amazing city. Today we started out from Balmoral Beach, walking around Middle Head to Chowder Bay. Excuse the quality of the photos – they were taken through a plastic bag – my ‘waterproofing’ method of choice!

Then it’s back to my desk for a few more hours work, but feeling refreshed and re-energised.

I look forward to hearing more #MedComms day stories from around the world. Have a great day everybody.



It is a Dunner stunner on this winter morning

June 9, 2015

New Zealand is clearly not a healthy place just now for children and dogs! This just in from another New Zealand-based freelance writer, Tricia Newell.

Like Lyndal, my morning is also off to an unusual start. While my two biped children are off to school on a lovely Dunedin morning (yes, winter in the deep south of New Zealand can be fantastic especially for this displaced Canadian), the smallest fur baby is feeling terribly sorry for himself after his “procedure”.

Interspersed with nursing Doug back to his fun self, is a typically diverse day as per the norm since starting freelance medical writing. Working on projects for clients in the US, Australasia, and Europe across several therapy areas has kept it interesting and I definitely never get bored. The best part of working from home continues to be the flexibility. I can still do all the fantastic mum stuff like cheering at soccer, netball, and hockey games (for any Canadians out there, it sadly isn’t of the ice variety, but I’ll still call myself a hockey mom), while continuing my career. While I’ll always miss the social aspect of working in an office, digital communication has stopped any isolation, and being home-based has allowed me to be more productive in both my personal and professional life.


It’s another beautiful sunny Hawke’s Bay day here

June 9, 2015

Lyndal Staples, freelance writer in New Zealand has started her day’s work. Here’s hoping your daughter feels better soon, Lyndal.

My day as a freelance medical writer has started somewhat different from usual.  My daughter has a nasty cough so she’s going to stay at home with me today; it’s not ideal as I have a project due back with my client tomorrow night, but with two young kids, it’s my #medcomms reality at the moment. A few late nights of work here and there seems a fair trade off for spending a bit more time with my family. Sure, it’s stressful and sometimes lonely being a freelancer, but it’s a perfect fit for me right now. In fact, what’s not to like about flexible hours, no commute, daytime dog walks and the option of working in my pyjamas! (I hasten to add that I am dressed. My daughter, however, is on the couch still in her pyjamas with her cuddly…)


We’ll call this the starting signal….

June 9, 2015

We’ve had our first tweet from New Zealand where it is now the 10th June so we’re going to call this the official start of MedComms Day 2015! Well done to freelance medical writer, William Chong aka @cleverwhale for kicking us off. And here’s his web site to peruse.

What next?

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 21.21.39

And this is what we all dream about!

June 11, 2014

Isn’t technology great? Freelance writer, Sarah Smith, writes in from her mobile office.

This a late contribution to A Day in the Life of MedComms from the sunny Caribbean. Today we moved my mobile office (SY CAPE) from Trinidad to Grenada. It took us 16 hours to sail about 85 miles north and we have just dropped anchor. Luckily internet access is getting easier and easier – I was able to send this message and collect all of my email from the boat using a wi-fi booster. Looking forward to going through all of the A Day in the Life of MedComms posts tomorrow, but first it’s sundowners on deck for us!


SY CAPE; Sarah's mobile office

It’s been another varied day in MedComms for me

June 11, 2014

Freelance writer, Sarah Birch, is loving her work..

It’s certainly not been manic, I’m in one of those nice gentle periods that follow the busy ones, but there’s enough going on to keep me occupied. I went freelance about 15 months ago having worked in house for 12 years and so far have loved the flexibility that it’s given me, and the fact that I’ve got to work with a whole host of lovely people on a range of interesting projects and therapy areas. Today was reasonably typical day, I started off with an early email check and then viewed some amends to a case study video so that I could pass it back for upload to Zinc and client review – fingers crossed they’ll like it! After a spell of dog walking and breakfast, I then settled down to pulling together a slide deck to support a forthcoming client call. Several cups of tea later, followed by more dog walking, a bit of chicken watching and a check on the latest #MedComms tweets, I find that the day has whizzed by. I feel so lucky, I do a job I enjoy from a location I love with one of the shortest commutes possible. What’s not to love about a day in MedComms?



Freelance Greetings from the London Burbs

June 11, 2014

A summary of her day, from Corinne Swainger, Medical Writer, Copywriter and Editor

My day began at 7.30 when my 12-year old son stepped out the door to walk to high school and I stepped out for a 30 min walk around the park. As a freelance medical writer and editor, mainly working from home, I don’t miss the Underground commute but I still need the fresh air and exercise first thing in the morning to get me ready for each day’s business challenges.

Three copywriting hats

After checking all emails at my desk, I ‘attend’ a three-way Skype conference with a medical ad agency whose account directors each work from their own homes. We discuss the content flow of two detail aids for a medical device campaign targeted for GPs and pharmacists, plus a patient leaflet. These are 3 of the 9 items I’m producing for them. It’s time to put my different copywriting hats on and figure how what key messages will encapsulate each audience.

Negotiating deadlines

While I’m Skyping, a med-ed agency I work with emails and asks me to incorporate recent client comments on a clinical slide presentation I’ve been writing for an upcoming cardiology conference. They want the the revised draft by Friday morning but I’m already scheduled to complete another editing job tomorrow, so we negotiate the deadline for Friday EOD, which still suits their schedule.

Quiet please

After taking a break for lunch outside, I get down to business and start editing some website copy for a private hospital that offers new specialist services in oncology. To get this done, I need to turn off my emails completely and playing some wordless music over the internet so I can concentrate.

Freelance gossip

Around 3.30pm, another medical writer friend calls me and asks me if I’m interested in a freelance job enquiry she’s received. We have a good chat about maintaining that elusive work-life balance and a moan about late payments. I note down one late-paying client she mentions. Some people assume freelancers work in bubbles but we regularly update each about on-going medcomms freelance challenges.

Beat the iPad

Around 4pm, my son arrives home from school. It’s time for me to take a tea-break and put my deadlines on hold so I can catch up with his day, before he disappears to find the iPad.

Aspiring photographers (part 2)

June 11, 2014

Ryan Woodrow of Aspire Scientific, a freelance medical writing agency, has just sent in this contribution:

Members of the Aspire writing team are hard at work across England and Switzerland today. However, we have taken some time out to take some snaps… much the same as we did for “day in the life…” last year (hence part 2). But – in our desire to stay on trend – this time we have included selfies, as well as local landmarks!

The first photo is of Ryan who managed to find a bit of time at lunch to take a quick breath of fresh air outside of Adelphi Mill in Bollington – where our “Northern” office is based. Ryan’s now back at his desk working on some slides for an oncology training deck.




Meanwhile, Rick also managed to find a bit of time at lunch to take his black Labrador for a walk near our “Southern” office in Oxfordshire. See if you can spot his dog in the poppy field! Very topical with the recent D-Day commemorations!




Meanwhile, one of our freelance writers, Jon Askham – who moved to Basel, Switzerland with his family in January 2013 – spent today preparing the outline for a manuscript for a new therapy in ovarian cancer. Prior to moving to Basel, Jon worked at the University of Leeds as a Senior Research Fellow specialising in oncology. Jon’s selfie was taken at midday today. Behind him you can see the Rhine with the old part of Basel and Basel Munster in the distance.





Another of our freelancers, Charlotte Sayers, sent us this selfie from her front door. After doing her undergrad at Cambridge and finishing her PhD in virology, Charlotte worked for a MedComms agency in London, before moving to the sunny Derbyshire Dales. She now works as a freelance writer for Aspire and another company. Charlotte says that this freelancing has “allowed flexibility at a time when life has been a bit hectic!”. Today she has been working on a database project on a drug for multiple sclerosis.





Last, but not least, Lizzy McAdam sent us this selfie from the manor house at Cancer Research UK’s Clare Hall laboratories in Hertfordshire. Lizzy McAdam is a postdoctoral researcher at Cancer Research UK, but also works as a freelance medical writer for Aspire Scientific. Before taking up her postdoctoral post 3 years ago, she was a PhD student at Swansea University, studying the causes of oesophageal cancer. She is now working on skin cancer, but hopes to move into medical writing full-time when her research post finishes. She has worked for Aspire Scientific for about 6 months, mainly working on oncology projects. Lizzy says “It’s been great, as it’s given me an insight into what life as a medical writer is like”. Today she is working on producing a set of powerpoint slides summarising abstracts for an upcoming congress.




An (unusual) day in the life of Medcomms 2014

June 11, 2014

My day started at 6.15 this morning, as I had some catching up to do.

I smiled when I read that Mark English had finished off his oncology e-learning project – I think that we are both contributing to the same project and I sent off my latest module this morning as well. That went at 9.30, and I’m now on to my work for today, which is a white paper on exercise in medicine. I attended a round table with a group of experts from all over the UK at the end of last week, and I’m now using the outputs of that meeting along with the background research and references they’ve given me to draft a white paper. The topic is a little unusual for me – although it touches on therapeutic areas that I’m very familiar with – and I’m finding the whole thing quite fascinating. (Although it’s just a little worrying too – that’s one of the downsides of medical writing, I think, sometimes you find out things that you’d rather not know.)

I’ve also got a couple of newsletters coming back from a designer this afternoon. I’ve been project managing the reworking of some materials that were originally created for the Dutch market – it’s been an interesting job that has given me the opportunity to work directly with a pharma company (not at all usual for me) and with a lovely freelance designer who used to work with me at PJB Publications.

I have my younger daughter at home with me today, she’s in the thick of AS levels and is revising Decision Mathematics today (Gant charts, algorithms – I know the words…). It makes quite a change to have someone around while I’m working.



Celebrating one of the joys of freelance life

June 11, 2014

It had to happen at some point. Publications Consultant, Elizabeth (Liz) Wager sends us our first cat photo!

One of my office assistants. Always fun to have round the office, very helpful for filing and paper shredding but hopeless at answering the phone



Saying hello from Auckland, New Zealand!

June 11, 2014

The day is now well underway for Freelance Writer, William Chong AKA @cleverwhale on Twitter

My story of going freelance this year stemmed from a desire to make the best use of my time, and to learn and try out other types of communications work – medical writing, business writing, and website development.

So what’s happened so far on International MedComms Day?

First up, I reviewed and accepted some revisions to a CPD module for pharmacists. It’s probably the 20th writing job I’ve completed for this client in the area of acute pain, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to dig deeper into acute pain research and learn some new insights along the way (helpful the next time I have a headache!)

Next, I reviewed some client revisions to a draft manuscript I had prepared (on hypertension control), where thankfully no major edits were required.

Then I switched hats and set about fixing the backend on some websites (simple server security stuff). There was a bit of a scare last night when one of the servers I had helped to set up got into some spam trouble, so wanted to shore up all our other websites at the same time to make sure. I’ve enjoyed being stretched outside of my comfort zone like this. The “aha” moments when tough concepts click in your head are equally rewarding, whether it’s understanding how a LAMP stack works or whether it’s interpreting the results from a clinical trial.

At a time when we have young children, I want to make the most of these years by having the time and flexibility to have lunch with the family during the day, play with the girls / take them to the park when I need a mental health break, and basically invest in their lives during these formative years.

Other jobs I’m hoping to accomplish today:

– a bunch of banking-related tasks (managing my own tax obligations has been a new and instructive experience)

– meet someone for lunch

– pick up my bike from the bike shop (the wet and wild storm that tore through Auckland has mostly cleared)

– start on an executive summary for a new client (seems like in freelancing every project feels like your first day at work)

– compile a report of a non-medcomms conferences I’ve helped to organise

– Today’s timesheet is a good snapshot of the flexibility that being self-employed offers, and the various ways I get to do what I’m most passionate about – to keep learning, and to keep writing about what I’ve learned.

Happy #MedComms Day everyone!

While I was doing all this, eldest daughter E came alongside and decided to pitch in using her custom-made keyboard…