The fourth panellist we’re featuring for Careers In… is Karen Munro. Karen is Principal Medical Writer at PRA Health Sciences and she’ll be on our panel for careers in journalism, publishing and writing
Medical writing has proven to be a great career choice for me. I have been a medical writer in both the medical communications (“MedComms”) and regulatory sides of the industry. As a medical writer in MedComms, I enjoyed the variety of work. Some months, I worked closely with authors to prepare manuscripts, congress abstracts, and posters. At other times, my work focused on slide preparation for various scientific meetings, drafting training materials for investigators, or even preparing a video script to explain how a drug works. As a medical writer currently working on the regulatory side of the industry, I enjoy working on large documents to support the clinical development of various drugs. A key focus has been to prepare clinical study protocols and study reports, with input from expert collaborators. There is nothing that I like better than receiving the new study data and writing it up! Whether working as a MedComms writer or a regulatory writer, I have found the work to be interesting and challenging; there is always something new to learn.
So how did I get started as a medical writer?
I started my career as a research assistant in the lab. I had always enjoyed science, but gradually realized that lab work wasn’t for me. Through researching other options, I identified medical writing as a potential career. At that time, I had a very narrow understanding as to what medical writing entails. However, as I loved writing my PhD thesis, I thought that medical writing might be a good fit for me! (To anyone thinking about starting out as a medical writer, the European Medical Writers Association website has some great information about the different types of medical writing, with links to useful resources…)
Therefore, I adapted my CV to highlight my writing experience, albeit limited; I ensured that the information was concise, clear, formatted well, and without grammatical or typographical errors. Having applied for various junior medical writing positions, I was eventually rewarded with some writing tests. I didn’t realize at the time, but this tends to be the inevitable next step in the recruitment process. I found that the tests provided an opportunity to demonstrate attention to detail, the ability to tailor content to the audience, and deliver work on time. All of these are important traits for a medical writer, as is the ability to work effectively with others.