Dr Nigel Eastmond
Director of Eastmond Medicomm Ltd
How many years have you been working in this sector?
What do you like the most about your job?
A couple of things. The variety is great. Medical communications involves a huge range of deliverables, including manuscripts, exhibition stands, slide decks and new media projects, so the work is never dull. The other thing that is very stimulating is the opportunity to work with some staggeringly clever people who are at the top of their game. Surrounding yourself with people like that makes you better.
What led you into your current role or career?
In fact, it was Immunology News. I was working as a post-doc in a lab in Liverpool looking for my next move. At the time, I was writing the IT column for Immunology News, and I wondered if I could combine science with writing. After a false start looking at industry magazine jobs, I discovered the medical communications industry right on my doorstep in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
What are the career progression options in this role?
Graduates and PhDs tend to start as trainee Medical Writers, producing marketing copy within a team. Obviously, you can end up leading those teams and working with the pharma client to define the marketing communications strategy for a drug, but you can also work in business development pitching for new accounts. Once you have enough experience, you can do the brave thing and start your own agency from home.
What are the most important skills and experiences that have got where you are today?
Having a background in biological science is essential, but there are some other key things that are needed in this role. You have to be able to write perfect English and know how to tell a story within the conservative parameters set out by medical publishing. That is a difficult balancing act. The other key skill is the ability to market not only a drug, but yourself and your ideas. You need to be a gregarious people person who can instantly make productive relationships with people who know more about the subject at hand than you do.
Any tips or advice you would give to someone thinking of going into this type of career?
You have to differentiate yourself. When applying for medical writing jobs, everyone says that writing their thesis was the most enjoyable part of their PhD. That is not enough to set you apart. Take on writing projects now. Write for Immunology News, write for The Biochemist, create a web site, start a blog, learn graphics software – do anything that teaches you about written communication and the media channels that are used to propagate it. This will create a CV that describes someone who really enjoys communicating science.