On leaving high school, I originally chose to do a biomedical science degree as a) I didn’t think I’d be able to find work with a degree in English literature, and b) I wanted to save the world from genetic disease. One year in at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, I decided that saving the world meant far too much time conducting soul-destroying laboratory experiments that rarely worked, and so I switched my major to pharmacology, believing that this would provide me with a wider range of options after I graduated. Luckily for me, at the end of my third year at University, we had a visit from what was just about the only medical writing company in the country. They convinced me that medical writing was the career for me, as it combined two of the things that I liked most: science and writing. To this day, I still believe that this is one of the only careers in which you can combine these two aspects. A huge plus for someone like me, who has always been drawn equally to the arts and to the sciences.
After completing my BSc, I was offered the role of assistant manager in the shoe store where I had worked part-time during my studies. I took the position, and I firmly believe that it has stood me in good stead ever since. Everyone should work in retail at some point in their life – it forces you to interact and communicate with people that you never would ordinarily, and leaves you with a better awareness of the people around you. After about 6 months, a position as a medical writer happened to come up, which I applied for and successfully won.
Since then my career has taken me all over the world – I’ve worked in New Zealand, Sydney and most recently London. I’ve worked for very small independent companies with fewer than 10 staff members, and huge multinational companies with a combined
staff of thousands! I’ve had the opportunity to work on many different sorts of products – from consumer healthcare products to speciality drugs for orphan indications – and across many different sorts of projects from manuscripts, to detail aids, to animations and meetings. One of the things that I have always enjoyed about this career is the variety – both in terms of projects and the products that we work on – and luckily for me, this has been an aspect of all the roles that I have held.
I’ve grown a lot as a writer since starting at Darwin Healthcare Communications about 18 months ago. I’ve had the opportunity to lead accounts and to become a line manager – something that I have come to really enjoy. Mastering the art of medical writing is one thing, but to help others master it is something quite special and rewarding. The people at Darwin Healthcare Communications have been supportive and encouraging, and are a lovely group of people to work with. Life as a medical writer is never boring, and it has enabled me to combine two of the things that I enjoy the most. You can’t ask much more from a job than that, now can you?
Note this Profile was first published in the March 2015 edition of the MedComms Networking careers guide, From academic to medical writer: A guide to getting started in medical communications, freely available from and published by NetworkPharma Ltd.