Chatting with Gabriel Hoppen, Medical Writer, W2O Science

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Gabriel Hoppen, Medical Writer, W2O Science

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I was looking for a scientific career outside the lab – I wanted to gain business awareness, and understand science closer to industry and healthcare.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The variety of therapy areas, pace of work and a little bit of unpredictability.

What’s the most challenging experience you have faced?

Tricky client deadlines – especially if they all stack up at once….Two ad boards and a series of training modules all due within a few weeks was fairly challenging, but situations like these are the best way to learn.

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

It’s a bit of a copout answer but in all honesty, day to day work at W2O Science answers both parts of the question. I’d especially like to use this opportunity to shout out my colleagues Rebecca and Kiran for being the funniest and providing daily hilarity.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Nicolas Cage – only he could do justice to the high-octane life of a medical writer.

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Check emails…prioritise tasks…often I like to work on one thing in the morning and something different in the afternoon, but other days when I’m in a different mood I like to do a solid 8hr single task. That’s a great part of medical writing, the opportunity for varied types of work.

 What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

Developing slides for different situations, events and audiences takes up most of my time, occasionally jumping on a client call to discuss all things content.

Thanks, Gabriel. Have a great #MedComms Day!

 

Chatting with Jo Lyford, Freelance Medical Writer

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Jo Lyford, Freelance Medical Writer

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

My job manages to unite my two passions: medicine and writing. After finishing my degree in Medical Science & Pharmacology, I got a job in biomedical publishing, followed by a move to a med comms agency. After a short time in-house I went freelance – and that was ~20 years ago. I feel very fortunate that I can make a living doing something that I enjoy so much.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I love delivering a finished project – whether it’s a new detail aid, a slide kit, or reprint carrier – by the agreed deadline, feeling confident that I have met the brief and hopefully surpassed the client’s expectations in terms of quality and accuracy. When I receive feedback from the client confirming that – it’s ever better!

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

The most challenging aspect of my work is finding creative ways of delivering the client’s key messages without compromising accuracy and while always ensuring compliance with local medico-legal regulations. Other challenges include: (i) working on several different products at the same time, each with their own specific requirements in terms of messaging, “tone and feel”, branding, referencing etc; (ii) dealing with clients who change their minds often or are unclear about what they want; and (iii) reconciling several sets of comments on a material, some of which may be contradictory or incorrect.

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

Earlier this year I spent several days filming inside a large pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, making a video to showcase the high quality of the product (an antibiotic). Seeing how a medicine is produced – from the raw materials to the finished tablets before being packaged and sent off for worldwide distribution – was absolutely fascinating.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

My daughter, as she looks like a miniature version of me.

What’s a typical day look like for you?

I have school-age children so I start early and finish early in order to collect them from school. I work from an office in my house. I start at 7am by checking my emails and prioritising my workload for the day. I am typically working on several materials at any one time, and they may all be at different stages – some will be new briefs, some will be in layout, and some may have come back from the client with comments. Most of my work has to be turned around quickly so I have to be efficient without sacrificing accuracy.

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

Writing and revising copy for a multitude of materials, such as: detail aids; leavepieces; reprint carriers; videos; interactive screens; marketing emails; web pages or entire websites; web banners; brochures; conference booth panels. I may also have calls with the client and be involved in discussing strategies for future projects.

Thanks, Jo. Have a great #MedComms Day!

 

 

Chatting with Corinne Swainger, Freelance Copy Writer

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Corinne Swainger, Freelance Copy Writer…

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

Like many MedComms professionals, I fell into the industry by ‘accident’. I’m originally from Devon but spent my teens in Florida. In American high school, I worked on the student newspaper, where we also had to lay out the printed articles by hand. I also loved to sketch people in my spare time.

When I started university, advertising copywriting seemed like an ideal subject to combine my creative and communications skills.

So, I pursued a BA in Mass Communications at the University of South Florida. This involved studying traditional advertising, PR, journalism, photojournalism, and economics. At that point, I had little interest in medical science.

What was your first job in healthcare communications?

As part of my BA degree, I was lucky enough to get a Summer internship at the communications department of a private Florida hospital. That gave me the chance to learn how to sell clinical services to a wide range of healthcare consumers.

When I returned to the UK after university, recruiters automatically classified me as a ‘junior medical writer’, although I’d never heard of the role. I started working at a small ethical healthcare advertising agency in St. Albans, Herts.  The staff taught me the ABPI Code of Practice, and I got a chance to help launch the first UK prescription drug for HIV.

It wasn’t until several years later that I completed a BSc in Life Sciences at the Open University. By that time, I had worked as a senior medical writer, editorial manager and PR account manager.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

 After 14 years a freelance writer, (now trading as MediQuill Ltd), I still enjoy the flexibility of dealing with different healthcare projects, rather than a limited number. Plus, I love the freedom to set my own hours, and work-life balance.

 What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

 Shortly after I began freelancing, one of my biggest challenges was deciding to remain independent or not. One month I could be juggling five new clients, while the next, I was twiddling my thumbs. I eventually conquered this challenge by deciding to specialise in certain areas, rather than trying to take on every new brief.

 What’s the highlight of your career so far?

 Over the past 20 years, I’ve volunteered for the Tuberous Sclerosis Association (TSA) ─ a rare disease charity  ─  to publicise a national adult support group. I’m also a former trustee of the charity. Today, I’m still involved in the TSA’s Research Review Committee as a lay member, and I recently chaired its first virtual meeting on Zoom, during the COVID-19 crisis.

 Who would play you in the movie of your life?

 Renée Zellweger because she reflects the changing roles you need to adopt to succeed as an independent healthcare writer in MedComms.

 What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

 My main daily focus tends to be updating clients about the progress of their projects. Around 50% of my time is spent on researching background resource and developing ideas for new briefs before I put pen to paper. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn and try to dedicate some time to it on a regular basis. Overall, I’ve found it’s a valuable way to network with potential clients and other freelancers.

 Thanks, Corinne. Have a great #MedComms Day!

 

Chatting with Beverley Swain, Freelance Medical Writer

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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!

 

Chatting with Victoria Harvey, Principal Medical Writer, AXON Communications

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Victoria Harvey, Principal Medical Writer, AXON Communications

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

The opportunity to be creative while still getting my fix of science

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Working with like-minded individuals to increase awareness of a particular disease, or therapy that could be potentially life changing for those facing the disease

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

I will always say standalone events; they are as challenging as they are rewarding!

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

No specific highlight as such, but I do love a good drug launch!

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Elastigirl (Mrs Incredible) – not in the hero sense. I think you need to be able to stretch and reshape yourself, while retaining your integrity, to be able to juggle the challenges of working in Med Comms with being a parent. I draw the line at lycra though!

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Busy! It’s obviously been switched up a bit with virtual events currently replacing face-to-face meetings. A good balance of discussing content, floating ideas, line-management, training and mentoring, and advising on strategy – currently also with a bit of home-schooling thrown into the mix!

Thanks, Victoria. Have a great #MedComms Day!

 

Today’s free MedComms webinar: Learning and development at AMICULUM

We’ve been running regular, free, weekly #MedComms webinars for a long time now. Details of upcoming events are always kept bang up-to-date at MedCommsNetworking.com and all the recordings are freely available at NetworkPharma.tv or on the MedComms YouTube channel if you’ve missed them.

Today’s weekly webinar is at 12.00 UK time and everyone is welcome to join us. We’ll be talking about learning and development at AMICULUM.

In this webinar, we’ll provide an insight into the learning journey of a new medical writer or account executive during their first 12 months at AMICULUM. We’ll be joined by learning and development expert Louise Upton who will provide an overview of our in-house learning initiative, Curriculum, and demonstrate how our colleagues can use this platform to create their individual learning and development pathway. We will also be joined by Isabelle Blomfield (Medical writer, Seques), Emily Germon (Talent Acquisition, AMICULUM) and Priya Loi (Account handler, Comradis), members of our team who have recently joined AMICULUM – who will talk about their learning experience over the first 12 months of their career. Questions from the audience will be welcomed.

[REGISTER HERE]

Slide1

A Day in the Life of a Medcomms Recruitment Consultant under Lockdown

Maz Reive, of Media Contacts, has shared her plan for her day ahead… I’m guessing it may be subject to some change, though, as the day unfolds! But you’ve got to start somewhere, and some planning always helps…

Here is my plan for today.

7:30am: My alarm goes, and dependent on how many snoozes I allow myself, I commute from bedroom to living room (*swish home office*) for a large cup of coffee and BBC breakfast around 8am.

9am: A morning call with my colleague, Julia, to set our goals and plans for the day and catch up on any new developments. I then run through emails, review new CVs and applications for the positions we are recruiting for. Today we are concentrating on finding a SAD and a PMW for an independent, boutique agency.

10am: Client and candidate calls – Presently, a significant portion of these discussions are spent examining the challenges presented by Covid-19. Rather than just an update on candidates, my call with a market access/HEOR focused agency client covers issues such as remote onboarding, and ways to ensure any new starters feel welcomed and supported.

11am: Client job brief – Today it’s a new vacancy brief for a SMW from the HR Director of a full-service medcomms agency based in Manchester. Despite the difficulties facing the recruitment industry, we are still receiving lots of vacancies which is very heartening!

12pm: Webinar – We have been utilising this time to engage with digital webinars and training opportunities. For a recruitment consultant is it essential to immerse yourself in the market you recruit into, so the webinars on Medcomms Networking are an excellent opportunity for me to gain insight into the industry.

1pm: At lunch I get out for a good walk and phone a colleague for a natter.  

2pm: Headhunting – This afternoon I will be making some initial approaches for the senior medical writer position I was briefed on earlier. The client is flexible and willing to see a medical writer ready for a step up or a senior writer from another agency looking for a new challenge. My geographical search limits are wider now that agencies are more open to remote working than ever, making my job a tiny bit easier!

4pm: Writing job adverts – As well as one for the SMW, I’ve got one to write for a PR agency in need of an Account Director.  

5pm: Candidate calls – A mixture of calls include checking in with a recently placed candidate to see how he is settling in at his new agency, a call to a senior candidate we’ve worked with in the past to see if she can recommend any talented writers and a call with a graduate looking for her first medcomms role!

5.45pm Finish – Just time to plan my diary for the next day before settling in with a big glass of wine and a boxset!

Maz

 

Chatting with Chris Brooks, Account Director, Paragon

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Steve Scott at Media Contacts has chatted with Chris Brooks, Account Director, Paragon

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I was working in a related field in operations and was fascinated. The opportunity to travel was a big appeal for me to start with but it was also the fact that I could work in a busy and exciting area that can actually make a positive impact to people’s lives.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Working with clients. It’s the best feeling when you put in a lot of hard work in the background and impress the client at the end of it. I’m pleased to count most of my clients as friends.

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Delivering a promotional symposium in the US on an investigational product – a compliance minefield

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

One highlight would have to be receiving an invitation to deliver an industry presentation alongside one of my clients to talk about our experience in publication planning.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Someone short!

What’s a typical day look like for you?

No such thing exists, you can plan for tomorrow as much as you like but there will always be a few surprises

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

See Q6. The standard things would be to check what has come in overnight and prioritise what is on the list of actions and then go from there

Thanks, Chris. Have a great day!

Chatting with Julie Van Onselen, Director at Dermatology Education Partnership

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Julie Van Onselen, Director at Dermatology Education Partnership

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I started off as a nurse and still practise clinically as well as working in medcomms. I diversified into medcomms in order to have more variety, at the same time as specialising in dermatology – the area I am passionate about – and the opportunity to set up my own business

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Every day is different but I love the feeling that the educational work I do ultimately makes a difference to help patients get better care and improve people’s lives

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Learning about developing online education and different strategies for online, virtual audiences especially in the early days! Now the possibilities are endless and developments for these learning platforms very varied and exciting.

What’s the highlight of your career so far?

I’ve won a few awards but the highlight was developing an early digital education package, called ‘Scratching The Surface.’ Twenty years on people are still talking about it.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Julia Roberts

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

I’m either in the office or out and about and there is a mixture of writing, consultancy, training and educational development.

Thanks, Julie. Have a great day!

Chatting with Sophie Albon, Freelance Medical Writer and Editor

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Steve Scott at Media Contacts has chatted with Sophie Albon, Freelance Medical Writer and Editor.

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I fell into it. I came out of uni with a science degree with no idea what I could do with it, other than lab work/a PhD. I stumbled across a Scientific Editor role and the rest is history!

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Working with different clients and agencies and Learning about different therapy areas

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Managing workload and client expectations is a constant challenge when editorial resource is limited (there are a lot of late nights)

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

Being quickly promoted to Senior Medical Writer

What’s a typical day look like for you?

  • Attend internal and client status meetings
  • Write the first draft of a primary manuscript/poster/oral presentation
  • Take in client comments on medical training slides

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

As above (attend meetings, write materials, address client comments)

Thanks, Sophie. Have a great day!

Chatting with Petra Roberts, Medical Editor and Owner at Swanford Editorial Services

medcommsday19_julia_walton_1200x627Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Petra Roberts, Medical Editor and Owner at Swanford Editorial Services

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I was headhunted from journal publishing, which can be repetitive, and attracted by the variety of work in medcomms.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The feeling of flow when I am focused on an edit gives me joy.

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Learning to run a business solo is challenging but worthwhile.

What’s the funniest memory of your career?

I turned up soaking wet to an interview and still got the job.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

I’d like Julia Roberts in ‘finding out the truth’ mode to play me.

What are the key tasks in a typical day?

Scheduling work from various clients in my trusty paper diary, editing and proofreading, and finance admin are the main tasks

Thanks, Petra. Have a great day!

Chatting with David Jenkins, Principal Medical Writer, AXON Communications

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Steve Scott at Media Contacts has chatted with David Jenkins, Principal Medical Writer, AXON Communications.

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I’ve always had an interest in writing and was looking for a way to do that instead of bench science. After completing my PhD I attended a life sciences careers day and a talk given by a medical writer made the career sound appealing so I investigated more. Also, he showed a photograph of the glider he owns, and I thought ‘yes, I cou

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I enjoy the onsite activities, advisory boards in particular. It’s a buzz to see experts present slides that I’ve helped with at symposia and stand-alone meetings; and you’ll never hear a group of doctors talk like they do at an ad board!

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

At a standalone meeting a speaker was taken ill at the last minute and couldn’t deliver their talk. We managed to brief and rehearse one of the chairs as a replacement in record time!

What’s the highlight of your career so far?

We had just handed a project over to the client; we had written our section and they were going to take on the next part for budget reasons. The next day they sent it back to us to complete (with more budget) because we had done it so well that they wanted us to continue

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

I’d like to say Mark Ruffalo – I think he did a good Bruce Banner in the Avengers films. As an ex-scientist I’d like to promote a positive image for scientists in the movies!

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Check email, check Outlook calendar, check to-do list, get urgent client request, throw the lot up in the air and do the rest of the day on the fly

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

As well as my writing work and reviewing work from other writers I may also have catch-up meetings with account teams or line reports. We schedule regular client calls, so they crop up every couple of days or so. I also support recruitment for our department, so it’s not uncommon for me to interview a candidate for a medical writer role, either on the phone or in person. If I’m supporting a new business proposal I’ll fit in some research or catch up with other writers on the RFP team to make sure we’re aligned and not duplicating work

Thanks, David. Have a great day!

Chatting with Krys Dylewska, freelance medical writer

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Julia Walton at Media Contacts has chatted with Krys Dylewska, freelance medical writer.

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

I fell into freelancing as a medical writer from in-house project management. It suits my lifestyle because as a freelancer I am able to work from home and take care of my extensive menagerie of pets.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Getting paid! There’s a much more direct relationship between work and payment when you’re freelance so it’s a good feeling to reap the rewards for one’s hard graft.

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Being asked to do something completely wrong (be that impossible, unethical or unwise for the client’s business). An example was when a client wanted a set of slides that had been created for internal ‘cheerleading’ purposes to be adapted for KOLs, which is like asking to mix oil and water. Luckily, things like this have happened to me fewer than six times in 20 years and I am not afraid to say, ‘No’.

What’s a highlight of your career so far?

A recent highlight arose from working on a project for a big, global agency with one of their US divisions. Unusually for a freelancer, I was very heavily involved with being on calls and emails directly with the client. At the end of the project to deliver a slide deck she sent an email saying how pleased she was with the results. It was lovely to hear directly from the end-client that my insights and advice were so much appreciated.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Cher, because she has played a lot of feisty women who speak their minds and aren’t afraid to say controversial things, by being honest.

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

It depends on what I am working on at the time, but they may involve responding to emails, making sure the brief is optimal for the end-client’s commercial objectives, researching, finding ways to add value, reading minds, and, of course, writing.

Thanks, Krys. Have a great day!

Chatting with Elif Melis Bicer of Lucid Group

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Steve Scott at Media Contacts has chatted with Elif Melis Bicer, Senior Account Manager at Lucid Group.

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

Not quite being sure what I wanted to do after my Ph.D., but knowing I definitely didn’t want to stay in the lab(!), my supervisor told me about a past student of who’d gone into MedComms, and had a career that involved both science and creativity (aka the dream!), and I was sold!

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The people! I have loved almost everyone I’ve worked with in every agency. A close second is getting the opportunity to work on projects i’ve been truly passionate about, and pitching  brilliant ideas to clients, getting to see the wild look in their eyes of wanting desperately to say yes (a fair few even do!), before the inevitable ‘we’ve got limited budget this year…’

What is the most challenging experience you have faced?

Working with a new client, who clearly loved and wanted to continue working with their previous agency, and proceeded to make life extremely difficult… (can every email really be marked urgent!?!) 

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

After having completed a project for an extremely demanding client  – three times daily whatsapp calls and messages (on my work phone) etc, said client, tried to set me up with her son, asked me to look him up on Facebook and waited on the phone to hear my reaction to his photos!

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

A moomin?

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Emails, all the emails, team meetings and 121 catch ups, client TCs, liaising with studio and learning! From finding out more about a therapy area, the clients strategy to new ideas of how to approach things

What would your key tasks in a typical day be?

Proposal and budget development 

Thanks, Elif. Have a great day!

 

Ending a long day in London

We last heard from Jane Tricker, Freelance writer, this morning whilst she was struggling for a wifi connection on the train to London. She’s just arrived back home.

tricker_01It turned out to be a very long day in London – I got back about half an hour ago. The slide deck was well received: the pharma client has already sent his comments back and I’ll be working on them tomorrow. This afternoon, I’ve been putting together a rather unusual style of presentation for a global brand team meeting – first draft to be with the client first thing tomorrow (hence the long hours). Time for a glass of wine, I think.