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How to progress your Medical Communications career

What is Medical Communications?
Medical Communications (also sometimes known as Med Comms) refers to the communication of medical information or data through various channels and materials. A key component of pharmaceutical marketing, medical communications seeks to inform and educate healthcare professionals about a newly developed product that is nearing the end of its clinical trial.

A Medical Communications agency is selected by a pharmaceutical company to develop content that compellingly communicates clinical evidence, whilst ensuring the insights provided have been approved by expert third parties.

Essentially, a Med Comms agency is instrumental in supporting a pharmaceutical company by generating product awareness through educational and data-driven material, throughout the brand lifecycle.  

Traditional Medical Communication roles
Job roles within a Medical Communications agency are traditionally categorised into two departments: editorial and client services.  

Editorial
Job roles within the editorial department consist of medical writers, editors, and directors. Editorial teams are responsible for writing, proofreading and editing content and they are involved with the client throughout project delivery. Typical projects the team may work on include medical education modules or videos, publication planning and content, and meetings materials.

Traditional editorial job roles could be:

  • Associate Medical Writer
  • Medical Writer
  • Senior Medical Writer
  • Principle Medical Writer
  • Scientific Team Lead
  • Editorial Director
  • Scientific Director

Client Services

Client services job roles tend to be the cog in the wheel, making sure all aspects of the project run on time, to budget and specification. The client services team are responsible for managing and maintaining client accounts, building client relationships and ensuring successful project delivery.

Traditional commercial job roles could be:

  • Project Coordinator
  • Project Manager
  • Account Executive
  • Account Manager
  • Account Director
  • Client Services Director

How can you progress your Medical Communications career?

Progressing your career within Medical Communications won’t happen overnight. Hard work, dedication and ambition are all essential qualities to help you climb the hierarchal ladder. However, simply demonstrating these characteristics will only get you so far.

Below, we have highlighted five key components that can help candidates progress their career in Medical Communications as quickly as possible:   

  1. Gather relevant knowledge and experience

Best practice in gathering the necessary knowledge and experience to progress your career within Medical Communications is to fully immerse yourself into your job role. Essentially, you will learn more by simply doing the job. As a result, it is important to be enthusiastic and open to taking on new responsibilities.

  1. Avoid becoming overly specialised

Although working towards a highly specialised job role may be your ultimate career goal, it is recommended to gain a broad skillset early on in your career as this will lead to more job opportunities in the future.

  1. Work on various projects and value of accounts

Working on a variety of projects, both UK and global, and accounts of differing values will help you gain a better understanding of the needs and requirements of a diverse range of clients. Furthermore, this will enable you to broaden your skills and capability.

  1. Have a good relationship with clients

As you will essentially be working as an extension of the pharma team, it is important to have a good relationship with your clients. This will not only benefit you but your company. If a client enjoys working with you, it increases the likelihood of them continuing to do business with your company. In addition, this can open new progression opportunities for yourself.

  1. Conduct regular CPD meetings with your manager

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is the practice of developing the skills and knowledge required for your job role. Participating in regular CPD meetings will help you to identify gaps in your knowledge and capability. Furthermore, they will help you to gain an insight into the specific requirements needed to progress into your next job role.

What are the obstacles to a career in Medical Communications?

There are several barriers you may need to overcome to enter the industry:  

  • A PhD is often required to be selected for entry-level editorial roles.
  • For commercial job roles, you generally must have a life sciences degree.
  • UK based Medical Communications agencies are typically huddled in specific locations throughout the country. As a result, location could potentially be a barrier for individuals unwilling to commute to, or relocate for, work.

Can you transition into the Medical Communications industry without previous experience in the sector?
The Medical Communications industry is highly specialised and prior experience working in a Medical Communication agency is always preferable. Candidates wanting to transfer in from other industries often have to take a junior role so that they receive the necessary training and experience to be able to perform all aspects of the senior positions in their later career.
 

Typical Medical Communications career progression options

A career in Medical Communications is a very rewarding one at the forefront of medical advancements. Typical career progression opportunities within a Med Comms agency could look like:

Editorial

  1. Associate Medical Writer
  2. Senior Medical Writer
  3. Principal Medical Writer
  4. Scientific Team Lead
  5. Editorial / Scientific Director
  6. Head of Scientific Services

Commercial

  1. Account Executive
  2. Account Manager
  3. Account Director
  4. Client Services Director
  5. Head of Client Services

Editorial and Commercial

  1. Business Unit Director – Career roles in both editorial and commercial can lead to a progression opportunity to become a Business Unit Director, Managing Director and Agency Lead.

Conclusion

A career in Medical Communications is fast-paced and requires a high level of passion, hard work and determination. However, it can also be a very interesting, rewarding and lucrative career. The industry offers a blend of business, science, and creativity, which can be very enticing for individuals seeking diversity within their job role.
 

If you are looking to progress your Medical Communication career, or would like an informal chat to discuss your career progression opportunities, our specialist consultants can help - get in touch with them here. Alternatively, you can view all our current vacancies within this industry on our Medical Communications jobs page.