From Benchtop to Desktop: 8 Transferable Expertise Realized within the Lab that Apply to Medical Writing


October 30, 2019 | Brandi Schuster, PhD, Scientific Analysis Scientist | Medical Writing Companies

So that you’ve determined to start a profession in medical writing – congratulations! Now what?

It might be scary leaving the consolation of your lab and pipettes, and medical writing could seem very totally different from academia, however you’re extra outfitted for this transition than you might understand! (No, I’m not referring to your pipettes…)

At this time, graduate college students have entry to a number of sources to assist them break into the sector of medical writing. Whereas I encourage you to test these out, I additionally need to level out that you simply’re already studying invaluable classes on the bench which might be relevant to any new job or work atmosphere, together with medical writing.

This weblog put up outlines 8 expertise which might be transferable from the benchtop to the desktop. As Leah Busque said, “Individuals with extremely transferable expertise could also be specialists in sure areas, however they’re additionally unbelievable generalists – one thing companies that need to develop want.”

1. Efficient Communication

Efficient written communication could also be crucial transferable ability you may convey to medical writing. Happily, life within the lab gives many alternatives to hone your writing expertise.

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Getting ready grant functions, manuscripts for publication, your personal dissertation, and even your lab’s web site are all methods you’re studying to speak successfully. And every of those experiences is instructing you to jot down for various audiences – whether or not these be funding businesses, journal reviewers, your graduate committee, or fellow researchers at a poster presentation.

As medical writers, we use comparable communication expertise to arrange paperwork for various functions and ranging audiences.

Typically we’re requested to jot down comparable data inside totally different contexts (eg, writing a medical research report [CSR] and Investigator’s Brochure for a similar drug). Having the ability to succinctly summarize concepts and anticipate your viewers’s questions are expertise that scientists use every day which might be straight transferable to medical writing.

Backside line: Efficient communication is about exchanging data on the proper time and in the suitable approach for the supposed viewers.

2. Time Administration

Most of us have realized the significance (and necessity) of successfully managing our time within the lab. Whether or not it’s performing DNA extractions throughout cell incubations or organising a response whereas a plate reader goes by means of your subsequent stack, you will have probably labored on a number of experiments concurrently. You’ve gotten additionally probably coordinated experiments with writing time – manuscripts don’t write themselves!

Medical writers (particularly these at contract analysis organizations [CROs]) depend on their time administration expertise when engaged on a number of initiatives directly to extend productiveness. As an alternative of buzzing round between devices, we’re coordinating a number of undertaking timelines with an array of groups. Whereas studying tips on how to juggle a number of duties at one time is necessary for each bench science and medical writing, understanding your limits is equally necessary. Work high quality may be sacrificed once you overextend your self with multitasking. Typically, with bench work and writing, multitasking may be environment friendly; different instances it’s best to concentrate on one factor at a time, or simplify duties that you simply can’t eradicate.

Backside line: Time administration is about discovering a stability between productiveness and work high quality.

3. Drawback Fixing

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Though your diploma might say that you’ve a PhD in microbiology or biochemistry, in the end you will have been educated to be knowledgeable important thinker. A vital a part of pondering critically is drawback fixing. From hassle‑taking pictures failed experiments to repairing damaged laboratory tools (as a result of that profitable S10 grant software you wrote didn’t cowl the acquisition of a service plan…), you’re outfitted to unravel advanced issues that require instant solutions. Usually instances, drawback fixing takes the type of understanding who within the lab it’s worthwhile to ask for assist.

As medical writers, our issues look a bit totally different; maybe we’re writing up “unfavorable” outcomes in a CSR for a medical research that didn’t meet any of its endpoints, deciphering a brand new type information or template, or critically reviewing paperwork. Regardless, the identical problem-solving expertise which might be needed for locating inventive options within the lab are straight transferable to a profession in medical writing. We have to know who to ask or what doc or web site to look as much as get needed data for our writing assignments.

Backside line: Drawback fixing will not be about understanding the reply, however understanding tips on how to discover the reply.

4. Adaptability

Have you ever ever walked as much as a common-use instrument to understand that the one accessible time slots are both earlier than 8:00 am or after 4:00 pm? In that case, then you definately’ve probably practiced adaptability within the lab. Adaptability can also be needed for adjusting priorities primarily based on surprising knowledge outcomes or switching your analysis focus primarily based on adjustments in undertaking funding.

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Within the lab, you’ll have realized to turn into a jack of all trades with a purpose to alter to shifting priorities and transfer on to the subsequent experiment. Very similar to bench scientists, medical writers have to be adaptable to a frequently altering atmosphere.

Challenge timelines can change incessantly primarily based on medical and statistical evaluation actions. Adjustments to trade and regulatory landscapes typically end in sponsors altering their program’s priorities. Resourcing to initiatives may change because of these timeline and precedence adjustments.

Moreover, as medical writers, we alter to accepting new roles inside a undertaking – someday we could also be writing a doc, the subsequent day QCing a distinct doc, after which the subsequent day reviewing one other doc. Even throughout the similar doc, medical writers tackle totally different roles – from synthesizing and summarizing background data to decoding and discussing knowledge, to fielding suggestions from the Sponsor and serving to them develop strategic arguments. The flexibleness you realized as a bench scientist is straight transferable to medical writing.

Backside line: Adaptability is about being versatile and efficiently navigating change.

5. Working Independently

By the top of your graduate faculty expertise, you will have turn into an professional in your particular space of analysis. That technique of changing into an professional probably concerned loads of impartial work. Deadlines may be nebulous in graduate faculty. Primarily, you will have time on the order of years (maybe as much as 6 or 7 years) to work in direction of one long-term purpose – your dissertation protection. However attending to that time requires focus, short-term objectives, and dealing with little supervision.

As medical writers, we nonetheless set short- and long-term objectives, however on a a lot quicker timescale – typically on the order of months or weeks, and typically even days. There may be fairly the shift from leaving the bench as an professional in your subject to coming into the world of medical writing because the beginner. Nonetheless, the talents you will have honed as an impartial researcher within the lab might be straight transferable to medical writing as you progress in direction of needing much less supervision and taking extra initiative with initiatives.

Backside line: Working independently is about taking initiative to supply high-quality work.

6. Accepting and Studying From Suggestions

Receiving suggestions, whether or not optimistic or constructive, is a superb solution to be taught and develop in any place. It may be simple or troublesome to listen to relying on the type of its supply, so a vital instrument for accepting and studying from suggestions is depersonalization. For those who’ve made it by means of graduate faculty with a semi-firm grasp in your sanity, then you will have in all probability realized the worth in depersonalizing suggestions from each these inside and out of doors of your lab.

Separating your self from a undertaking means that you can achieve perspective when listening to suggestions and tackle the underlying problem. And it’s necessary to acknowledge that the underlying problem might or might not relate to one thing you will have management over. Each scientists and medical writers can discover themselves in positions the place they’ve restricted data but want to supply high-quality work.

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For instance, the strategies part of the manuscript you’re modeling your experiments after could also be obscure or defective – failed experiments or sluggish progress for causes exterior of your management may end in harsh suggestions. Equally, typically after we pull textual content from a protocol or statistical evaluation plan right into a CSR, we obtain suggestions that the data doesn’t make sense or is now not appropriate. This suggestions could also be legitimate and must be accounted for within the CSR, however we should always not really feel personally at fault.

As medical writers, our paperwork are reviewed a number of instances by totally different groups together with a number of rounds of QC and for scientific benefit internally or by the Sponsor. Studying to hearken to, consider, and settle for constructive suggestions is important for progress in any career. Right here at IMPACT, we take a proactive method to skilled improvement as medical writers by searching for out constructive suggestions regularly.

Backside line: Accepting and studying from suggestions is about actively listening, gaining perspective, and implementing needed adjustments.

7. Teamwork

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Scientific progress and educational collaboration go hand-in-hand. As a bench scientist, you will have probably labored with scientists from different labs, departments, or universities. A few of these collaborations might have been cross‑useful with individuals from various disciplines and areas of experience. Working with these multidisciplinary teams has developed your teamwork expertise, one thing medical writers depend on day by day.

As medical writers, we’re continuously interfacing with people from various experience inside a undertaking – from statisticians to affected person security representatives and pharmacology leads. In contrast to graduate faculty, the place you largely contribute individually to a crew, medical writing requires coordinating people inside a crew – exterior groups with a Sponsor in addition to inside groups.

It typically takes a crew of medical writers to deal with a big undertaking, significantly if it has a number of parts (eg, New Drug Purposes). Medical writers inside a crew might have totally different strengths or pursuits by way of therapeutic areas, drug developmental phases, doc varieties, or sections inside paperwork (ie, security vs efficacy vs pharmacokinetics). By working collectively, we are able to leverage these strengths to supply a high-quality doc or set of paperwork. At IMPACT, we additionally promote teamwork exterior of our traditional initiatives by means of firm initiatives like Making an IMPACT.

Backside line: Teamwork is about combining particular person strengths to work in direction of a typical purpose.

8. Dedication and Onerous Work

Graduate college students are not any strangers to dedication and exhausting work! Numerous self-discipline is required to achieve a graduate diploma. And dedication is a requirement for amassing high-quality and dependable knowledge within the lab. Nonetheless, when making the transition from graduate faculty into medical writing, there’s a shift from prioritizing self-serving objectives to firm objectives. For instance, whereas working in your dissertation analysis, you’ll have the purpose to publish a manuscript in a selected journal – you resolve which and what number of experiments to carry out (with the assistance of mentors) and also you resolve what the ultimate manuscript will seem like.

As medical writers, the top purpose for a undertaking is assigned to us primarily based on firm and sponsor wants and priorities. At a CRO resembling IMPACT, we accomplice with sponsors with the purpose of manufacturing excessive‑high quality paperwork that precisely summarize others’ work. Self-discipline and time administration are needed to realize these firm objectives and to make progress in direction of private objectives (resembling skilled improvement goals) in parallel.

Working exhausting in direction of firm objectives whereas making progress in direction of private objectives typically means working sensible to keep away from burnout. To land your first medical writing job requires exhausting work and dedication, however you will have probably been honing good work ethic expertise each day within the lab.

Backside line: Dedication and exhausting work are about making a dedication to supply a high-quality finish product.

If you’re thinking about changing into a medical author, please try our Medical Writing Fellowship program! IMPACT is an thrilling, small CRO whose crew has experience in medical writing, regulatory affairs/operations, early section medical trial administration, and drug improvement consulting. For those who’d wish to be taught extra about IMPACT, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Class: Medical Writing Companies

Key phrases: medical writing, regulatory writing, profession transition, transferrable expertise, fellowship

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