Q: How did you find your way to Medicalwriters.com?
I’m a biochemist by training, with a PhD in biochemistry. I knew right away that academia wasn’t for me—I like variety, and I like people. I joined another agency as a medical writer, but we weren’t a great fit. It was too hierarchical, and the processes were stuck in their own siloes. I found this new, youthful start-up called Medicalwriters.com just around the corner from my home. I was one of the first non-founders hired. I’ve been here four years, long enough to see us grow from one room to a highly respected, bi-continental agency with offices in Zurich and New York.
Q: That must have changed things a bit.
Yes and no. What I’ve always loved about Medicalwriters.com is that we are a very good team. We deeply care for each other. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that, as we’ve taken on more and larger clients, we’ve had to figure out how to grow fast and maintain quality. We’ve had to put new systems and processes in place. That’s part of my job. I’ll admit we’re still working on it, but having good systems frees us to do the creative work we all love. We are a larger agency now, but within our own teams—mine is the scientific team, and we all work in the same room—we still have that family feeling.
Here’s what I mean. Coffee in the morning. When I arrive at work, I open my computer, read my emails, and then have coffee in the kitchen with the rest of the team. That’s the best moment of the day. It’s spontaneous, buzzing with promise. Everyone has a story to tell, and when we’re done with the stories, we catch up on project work. A lot of informal work gets done at coffee. That’s also when we form the bonds that carry us through the crunch times.
Q: Can you say more about the agency’s growth?
When we started, from my desk I could see the co-founders and the rest of the staff, which made internal communications easy. We have lost some of that with the agency’s growth and offices on two continents. But we can now produce projects of a much greater magnitude. We’ve moved from one-offs for private individuals to ongoing engagements for large pharmaceutical companies. For example, we attend huge medical congresses all over the world. We create conference reports, conduct interviews, organize satellite symposia, and meet experts for advisory boards. We free up our clients to participate fully in the congress and not worry about logistics. When we were small, we didn’t have the manpower or systems to do that.
We are a growing company in every possible way. We are a work in progress. We are always trying new processes, new ways to communicate, new projects. Innovation is encouraged at all levels. I see how that could be frustrating for some, but I love it!
Q: What else is new at Medicalwriters.com?
Our newest offerings are animated publication summaries (APSs). They’re the brainchild of Wesley, our CEO, who figured that doctors don’t have the time to read all the papers they should to stay abreast of their fields. So we help them by animating publications in a quicker and more accessible format.
The animations are short—one to two minutes—and tell a story to help readers visualize the data-heavy content. We’ve been delivering APSs left, right, and center, and they’re fun to produce. I was writing a script for one today. It’s mostly about finding analogies and imagining engaging graphics that get across the article’s essence.
Q: What do you say to people who want to work for Medicalwriters.com? Is the agency for everybody?
I’ll speak for the scientific team. If you are a scientist like me, Medicalwriters.com provides a fantastic opportunity to get out of academia and into industry or to move to a more dynamic, innovative agency. Unlike other agencies, Medicalwriters.com gives us lots of responsibility very quickly, and allows us to be involved at diverse levels—from writing manuscripts and travelling to congresses to rethinking the way the industry communicates.
Lone wolves need not apply. You have to work well as part of a team—for quality control, no project is done by any one person. We look for people who are rigorous and careful with their science, but also personable. Working with clients is so much easier when they like you.
Medicalwriters.com is for you if you like work that’s fast-moving and never boring, work from which you never stop learning. You never find your comfort zone because you’re always doing new things you never thought possible.
Good candidates must be intrinsically motivated. By that I mean they must like the job for what the job is, for what they can learn on their own, for the internal rewards of doing the job well. If you are somebody who needs outside recognition, constant support, and hand-holding, you might want to look elsewhere.
At the same time, one also needs to fit in, to work as part of a team. So really the best way to put it is that good candidates must be intrinsically motivated team players.
Q: You mentioned travelling. Do you get to travel?
If you’re on the scientific team, you do get to travel, at least once or twice a year. Last year I had a blast! In June I was in Lisbon for a congress, and then in July went to Berlin, then Madrid, with my travels ending in Budapest in October. In the past six months, others have gone to Vietnam, China, India, and Dubai.
Q: Bottom line?
As a scientist, if you want to avoid the tenure wars, do interesting work, see new places, and work in an agency with the best talent in medical communications, Medicalwriters.com is the way to go. I love my job. It’s never the same. It’s never boring.