Medical communications – often shorted to med comms – is the name given to a range of companies that work on outsourced marketing and communications projects on behalf of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The work involved can vary massively dependent on the company or product in question, and it can prove to be a highly interesting and rewarding career path for both experienced scientists and ambitious commercial professionals.
The primary job roles within med comms are account management and medical writing. The account management teams are responsible for communicating with the agency’s clients, ensuring that projects are run smoothly and to the client specification. This is at its heart a commercial role in that the team works to strengthen the relationship between the two companies, making sure that the work is to a high standard thereby helping the company win repeat business. These roles are usually done by candidates that have a scientific background but whose interests are a mix of both science and business. The role of the medical writer is fundamentally different in that it favours very well qualified scientists and is often a far more independent endeavour. The writing teams produce a broad range of scientific copy that is aimed at audiences including therapy-area specialists, GPs or lay people.
There a range of projects that medical communications take on, the most common being CME (Continuing Medical Education) assignments or strategic publication planning projects. CME is aimed at GPs and allows them to maintain knowledge of the latest developments within the healthcare arena. This can take the form of large-scale conferences for which the writing teams create slide kits and other materials, whilst also encompassing online elearning suites and other such projects. Strategic Publication Planning is the process by which pharma companies collaborate with med comms agencies on the writing and publication of a range of manuscripts detailing the development of a specific pharmaceutical project. These texts can vary in the level of detail, yet are often highly scientific in nature and necessitate a candidate of considerable academic experience to write. However, med comms agencies take on a range of other projects, details of which can usually be found on individual company websites.
Med Comms is a growing and vibrant sector, with companies ranging from multi-national organisations to small, independent companies of four or five people. This means that it can suit anyone from a high flyer through to a passionate professional that is only interested in making a difference. The location of these companies is somewhat limited to the South East and North West regions (mainly owning to the necessity of being close to major airports for visiting clients) though it is worth noting that telecommuting is increasing common.
Overall, if you are looking for a vibrant and rewarding alternative to working within a pharma or biotech company, medical communications can give you a new option in which you can make a real different within the scientific community.
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