Maggie Lai, Comradis
I started a career in MedComms rather late in life and have worked in the industry for 2 years now. It was definitely the right move and all I can say is, “why didn’t I do this earlier?”
I had forged a reasonably successful career in academia working as a post-doc, which took me to New Zealand and Edinburgh, and then establishing my own research group. However, the continuous search for funding was soul destroying and I began to question whether this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The decision, however, was made for me when we didn’t get the big grant and that was it – my academic career had come to an end and it was time to look for another job.
One of my colleagues suggested I look into MedComms but I remember dismissing the idea at the time, thinking why would I want to be writing manuscripts for other people? I eventually worked for a cancer charity and started a new career as an information specialist/medical writer providing support and producing educational materials for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals. I spoke to people affected by cancer every day and gained valuable insight into the patient’s perspective that I could apply to my work in many ways. It was an incredibly rewarding job but after several years working in a very narrow field I realized I wanted to learn about other diseases yet continue as a medical writer. So, I finally bit the bullet and looked into what MedComms could offer.
I was extremely fortunate to join Comradis in January 2019, and at a time when it was rapidly expanding. It was quite daunting at first being a trainee writer and working alongside colleagues young enough to be my children. That, very quickly, was no longer an issue partly because everyone was so welcoming and supportive, and partly because there are no job titles at Comradis. The latter was intriguing, especially having come from workplaces where there were obvious hierarchies, but it really does work and helps foster openness and a “can do” attitude.
Yes, I have written manuscripts, but I have also worked on a variety of other deliverables, including slide decks, advisory board reports, e-learning programmes, scientific platforms, and animations. My time working at the cancer charity hasn’t been wasted either as I have worked on patient newsletter articles for one of our clients. I have also been involved in pitching for new business, which is fun and scary at the same time (think Dragon’s Den!). Most satisfying of all is that I have gained specialist knowledge in many different therapy areas.
For anyone considering a career in MedComms, I’d highly recommend it. It doesn’t matter whether you have just completed your undergraduate degree, PhD or postdoc, or whether you have worked elsewhere and are as long in the tooth as I am. If you want to apply your scientific knowledge but keep learning new things and new skills, then this could be for you.