If you have found your way to this article, chances are that you may have heard of the term ‘Medical Writing’. Careers in Medical Writing have begun to be abundantly available in India over the past few years, in line with a steady growth being witnessed in the Clinical Research Outsourcing industry. This article is intended to provide insights on the various career growth options available for professionals who begin their careers as Medical Writers.
Medical Writer – Entry Level Positions
At a very rudimentary level of understanding, it is perhaps advantageous to perceive ‘Medical Writing’ as a skill, in much the same way, as, say, ‘Public Speaking’ is a skill. With the intention of drawing an analogy, it is helpful to note that just as a professional with skills in ‘Public Speaking’ may find employment opportunities in different fields such as in ‘Event Management’, ‘News Broadcasting’, ‘Radio / Video Jockeys’ and others, similarly, professionals who become specialists in the skill of ‘Medical Writing’ can look at several options as their career destinations during the course of their professional journey.
Entry level positions in this field include positions typically found in Clinical Research Outsourcing organizations (CROs) and Pharmaceutical companies. Some of the job designations for which companies hire candidates for the Medical Writer skill include the following:
And many others.
In most of the positions listed above, the job description for the professional is focused on utilizing their ‘Medical Writing’ skills for the purpose of achieving the eventual objective of the organization for which they are hired. Some examples include:
And many others…
Once employed by a company, the career options for a Medical Writing professional can broadly be subdivided into the following 2 categories:
Each of these career growth options are described below for easier understanding.
Functional growth refers to career growth within the broad confines of the core Medical Writing professional segment, under which the professional began her career. For example, a Medical Writer hired by a CRO, could over the years, develop an expertise as one of the foremost knowledge experts in the field of specific therapeutic areas, such as Oncology or Nephrology and therefore, could command an industry reputation and commensurate compensation as a specialized functional Medical Writer.
Admittedly, the job options for movement in the medium to later stages of one’s careers may be limited as the number of companies specializing in work related to the specific therapeutic areas or other specialization fields of a particular candidate may be few in number, when compared to organizations performing function agnostic work, which may be more abundant. However, for the right candidate, the opportunities available will more likely to be well compensated financially as well as sufficiently challenging from a professional standpoint, both of which are established objectives of experienced and specialized Medical Writers.
Within the context of this discussion, Lateral Growth refers to cases in which professionals who begin their careers as Medical Writers, progress towards increasingly managerial or in some cases, allied roles.
Examples include professionals who progress towards becoming Team Leaders or Divisional Managers, before perhaps, growing into corner office positions in progressive organizations which reward merit. In these cases, as their career progresses, it may make sense for the professional to augment her Medical Writing skills and certifications, with certifications and degrees in advanced management specializations, such as an MBA, for instance.
Another possibility is for professionals who begin their careers as Medical Writers, to develop a comprehensive and exhaustive understanding about the overall discipline of Clinical Research, including all the nuances and functions involved. These professionals can then aspire to gain positions in allied fields such as in Patient Recruitment, Organizing Clinical Trials, Employment in Regulatory Bodies, and other similar avenues.
Whether the professional chooses to continue her career in functional or lateral growth areas, once the subject matter expertise is developed and showcased, there is considerable evidence in the industry to conclude that professionals who begin their corporate careers as Medical Writers, invariably end up with salary packages which are, in some cases, known to be as high as 10 times that of the salary which they started their careers with, in a time frame of a decade or so.
However, as can be imagined, companies in India who are constantly on the lookout for suitable candidates for the role of Medical Writers are facing a very real and visible talent crunch. Most of the graduates and post graduates from the fields of life sciences educational streams are not at a requisite level that makes them automatic recruitment choices for companies. As a result, companies end up spending significant amount of money, resources and management bandwidth on basic training aspects of recruited candidates.
Multiple surveys among recruiters at companies in this field have revealed that if a candidate displays prior commitment towards gaining the relevant industry know how and comes to the interview armed with a specialization certification, the probability of that candidate getting recruited increases multi-fold. The concluding message from this article to all readers is that at the end of the day, there is no substitute for pro-active hard work and commitment towards developing the requisite skill set desired for a career in any industry and more so for a regulation heavy industry like the Life Sciences industry.
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