Starting a MedComms career in self-isolation – leave it to allegro!

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 11.10.35This article has been contributed by Cassidy Bayley, an Associate Medical Writer at Ashfield Healthcare Communications.

In March 2020, the sudden and all-consuming worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 marked a very interesting beginning to my first job in medical communications. In the weeks leading up to my official start date as an Associate Medical Writer, I was enjoying my honeymoon in a small beach town along the South African coast. Due to lockdown restrictions instated while I was there, I made it back to the UK with little time to spare. Ironically, back home in Manchester, I was no closer to entering the front doors of Ashfield Healthcare Communications (AHC) than I would be had I remained on the beach – either way I would start my first day virtually!

Despite the rapid change in circumstances, I could not have asked for a better team to facilitate and support my virtual job start. The AHC HR team and the allegro programme leaders were more than prepared to adapt to the unprecedented changes that social distancing enforced. Stage 1 of allegro, an 8-week, intensive training programme that had previously been conducted in-house, was quickly transformed into a wholly online experience. This included (but was not limited to) a series of Zoom meet and greets, regular Skype catch ups and an email chain dedicated to exchanging (terrible) dad jokes.

More seriously, allegro constitutes a first class, fast-track programme created with the intent to develop skilled and ‘agency-ready’ Medical Writers within 12 months. It is a programme that I was immediately attracted to, as someone who was looking to transition from a niche corner of biomedical research to the broad field of medical communication. As such, I was aware that I had a lot to learn and was hesitant to begin a career with the sometimes-successful strategy of ‘fake it until you make it’. Allegro does not require you to fake it, nor does it allow you to. From the assignment of our very first writing brief on day 2, it was clear that our writing skills were being laid bare. While this remains a terrifying notion for me (someone who successfully managed to avoid much writing scrutiny during my PhD experience, mainly due to excellent avoidance techniques), I know it will be the key to my success. This is especially true when you are being trained by professionals who have many years of experience and who are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. So far, I have found my new role to be an exciting (often daunting) cycle of challenge and reward. While at times I have been thoroughly flustered in the lead up to a tight deadline, feeling hard-to-ignore symptoms of ‘Imposter Syndrome’, other times I have felt particularly triumphant and have taken pride in my best efforts. I can only assume (and hope) that this is very normal, and that the reward does not come without the challenge.

Moving forward, I am thoroughly excited for my future with AHC as an Associate Medical Writer. I am hopeful that through my current and future training I will contribute to a patient-centred healthcare industry. Who knows, perhaps my new skills might prove to be especially useful in a future worldwide pandemic. I certainly hope not!

More about working life at Ashfield Healthcare Communications and the Allegro programme can be found at http://www.lifeatahc.com

More about Ashfield Healthcare Communications can be found at https://www.ashfieldhealthcare.com

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