When I first applied for a job in healthcare communications as an Associate Medical Writer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I received a job offer to join the Allegro programme a month after I had submitted my PhD thesis, and, to be honest, working outside of the comfort of academia was a little bit daunting. Allegro is a 12-month programme, comprising an eight-week training phase followed by two five-month rotations in different agencies within Ashfield Healthcare Communications (AHC). I have now just finished my eight weeks of training, and it has been quite the journey!
Upon starting at AHC, I immediately noticed that a lot of effort and hard work had been put into designing and executing the Allegro programme, and that everybody involved was incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic. When I first saw the scheduled training sessions and practical tasks for the upcoming months, it could have been overwhelming, but instead it was exciting because everyone around me was so passionate about the programme. Allegro offers the unique opportunity for people of different ages and backgrounds to learn and grow together as a group, united under a common passion for science and communication.
One of the first things I learnt was that healthcare communications is so much more than just writing. Although writing is an integral part of the job of an Associate Medical Writer, the ability to work successfully with other people is by far the most important skill you need. Until Allegro, I had no idea about the number of people and the different job roles involved in creating a successful healthcare communications company. The Allegro programme introduces you to the different job roles and where you, as an Associate Medical Writer, fit into the bigger picture.
The training sessions were all varied and motivating, providing a good opportunity to meet people from across the company. They ranged from sessions on time management and presenting with confidence, to clinical trials, statistics and publication planning. All the training sessions are designed to improve your knowledge, skills and confidence before joining an agency. One of the first training sessions we did was about the essentials of medical writing, and despite the amount of writing I had done through my degrees; it became apparent to me that I has lost some of the fundamental principles of writing, such as grammar, over time. Allegro allowed me to learn in a ‘safe’ space, and it was a comfortable environment for me to make mistakes and learn. There is serious information that needs to be taught in terms of compliance, copyright laws, and ethics, and it is important to not lose track of the responsibility you have as a Medical Writer. All the work we will do is with patients in mind, and therefore the work I do has an impact on people’s lives.
The tempo of work is fast-paced and deadline-orientated, but there is always time to reflect and have fun! It was encouraging to see that not only is there a network of people to help you, but that they all want to support you in any way that they can. People from across the company are all happy to share their own experiences and offer invaluable insight.
I leave this 8-week training phase much more confident in my writing and communication skills, but also recognising that there is so much more to learn and improve on. There is something special about being one of the first recruits in a pioneering programme, and I hope the next cohort of aspiring medical writers will enjoy their time in Allegro as much as I have.
[Find out more about the Allegro programme]
[Find out more about Ashfield Healthcare Communications]