My life as a medical writer
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My life as a medical writer. Karen Wilson Smith PhD. The pursuit of happ y ness sp. PhD: the effect of exercise on blood gas transport in the thoroughbred horse. Report writer at Animal Pharm : 2 years. Freelance writer: 3 years.

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My life as a medical writer l.jpg

My life as a medical writer

Karen Wilson Smith PhD


The pursuit of happ y ness sp l.jpg
The pursuit of happyness sp

PhD: the effect of exercise on blood gas transport in the thoroughbred horse

Report writer at Animal Pharm: 2 years

Freelance writer: 3 years

Managing editor at start-up company Genesis….Editorial director at Parexel MMS: 9 years

Medical writer…senior medical writer…editorial manager at FSP: 3 years


Transferable skills l.jpg
Transferable skills

  • Digesting complicated scientific material

  • Problem-solving

  • Liaising with opinion leaders

  • Presentation skills

  • Writing and editing skills


How i became a medical writer l.jpg
How I became a medical writer

  • Fierce and relentless editing

  • Learning to pick up the phone and talk to people

  • Luck

  • Hard work

  • Asking for help

  • Listening to the client (it’s not about “you”)

  • Mutual peer support


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New skills required

  • Commercial awareness

  • Multi-tasking

  • Thick skin

  • Asking for help


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My first three years

  • Franklin Scientific Projects (now Medicus)

  • Small agency (6 writers, 1 editorial director, 1 MD, 2 designers, 2 layout technicians, 2 secretaries…and no computers)



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My first projects

  • Taking over a monograph on verapamil from my predecessor

  • Managing a number of translations of a toothpaste newsletter

  • Developing presentations and a supplement for P&G’s Vicks products


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Specialist medical writer

Manager

Client services

Career development

Focus on more technical and specialised writingReview copyPitch and proposal activities Company “expert”Unlikely to have line reports, but may act as a mentor

Close liaison with client servicesClose liaison with clientManage timelines and budgetsReview copyReduced project workResponsible for team of writersRecruitment & appraisals


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The next nine years

  • Genesis Pharma Strategies (then PPS, now Parexel MMS)

  • Started as fledgling agency built on consultancy

  • Taken over by huge US company

  • My role grew from managing 4 writers to managing ~40 writers, secretaries and production editors on two sites plus senior management responsibilities

  • Main client was AstraZeneca (Galida)


A typical day as an editorial director l.jpg
A typical day as an editorial director

  • Meeting to discuss resourcing for a proposal

  • Review copy

  • Speak to client about project timelines and activities

  • Review cvs

  • Approve timesheets

  • Troubleshoot


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Typical projects for junior writers

  • Abstracts

  • Posters

  • Congress and journal information for Publication planning

  • Meeting materials (invitations, abstract books)


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Typical projects for experienced writers

  • Satellite symposia (all meeting materials)

  • Publication planning

  • Writing manuscripts

  • Reviewing copy

  • Proposals and pitches


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Are all agencies the same?

  • Many different types of agency

    • Large / medium / small

    • Hierarchical / flat

    • Writers / editors

    • Client services / no client services

    • Independent / owned by large organisation (often CRO, advertising agency or publisher)

  • What makes the difference?

    • The people

    • The creativity

    • The types of project


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