A career in medical education and communication
After a period in research and academia, it is difficult to envisage an alternative career. However, there are a surprising number of opportunities available although it does require some determination to discover them. One of these is to join a medical education, or communications agency. These companies work mainly with pharmaceutical companies and generally cover a range of therapeutic areas. There are many such agencies ranging from those with a small number of employees to the larger, 'one-stop' agencies that have the in-house capability to produce exhibition stands, multimedia products, 3D animations and videos, printed materials, events with satellite links etc.
The principal roles available are in the editorial or account management teams. The editorial role is self-explanatory generally requiring a scientific/medical background, and the ability to write well in a range of different styles. The role of an account handler is less obvious but he/she is the link between the agency and the client, and has the responsibility of co-ordinating all strands of the project on time and within budget. A number of skills are required in this position, many of which have already been acquired within a research environment. While the degree of scientific input expected is a key differentiator between agencies, there are a number of common characteristics required. These include excellent organisational skills, good interpersonal skills, an eye for detail, ability to work to very tight deadlines and under pressure, innovative ideas etc. In return, this position can be a very stimulating and rewarding career choice offering international travel, a career structure and the opportunity to continue to develop new and creative ideas.