What does a medical instructional designer do?

Natalie Rounding, Delta Kn


I realised early on in my PhD that academia wasn’t the right path for me. If I am honest, I felt uncomfortable with this realisation for a while. I had always had a clear career path in my mind and had never considered a life outside of academia. Faced with this new-found career panic I had a decision to make: where did I want my career to go next?

Throughout my PhD I had naturally been drawn to teaching and outreach opportunities at my university. I loved the challenge of communicating science to students and coming up with visual and practical ways to help them learn. I continued to build on my science communication experience during my thesis write up, taking on an internship with the research liaison and evaluation team at a national medical research charity. This gave me an opportunity to hone the skills I had developed during my PhD in a more professional setting.

Towards the end of my write up I started to think about my long-term career plan, wanting a job that combined my passion for science and learning, as well as the opportunity for career progression. After some research, medical communications seemed the perfect fit for me! I applied for a role at Delta Kn, a specialist learning agency within AMICULUM, as the ethos of the company really resonated with my own interests. Following a writing test and interview, I was delighted when I was offered a position at its office in Cheshire. After being told multiple times ‘no one will employ you whilst you’re writing up your PhD’, it was refreshing that the company was flexible and willing to take me on before I had undertaken my viva.

Two years on and I have no regrets about my transition from academia to medical communications. My role within Delta Kn is as medical instructional designer. ‘What does a medical instructional designer do?’ I hear you ask - well, no two days are the same. One day I could be developing a training programme for the launch of a new drug, which might involve creating animations or videos, and the next I might be supporting a virtual medical education meeting for teams located across the globe. I love the fast-paced, varied environment I work in and I feel like I am learning something new every day.

If, like me, you have decided academia isn’t for you, my advice is not to feel stigmatised for wanting to change career. Be true to yourself, academia isn’t for everyone and that’s ok - there is a big wide world out there!

I would highly recommend a job in medical communications if you are passionate about science and you’re looking for a challenging career with great opportunities for progression. I haven’t looked back and can’t wait to see how my career will progress in the future!

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