A Day in the Life of a Medical Writer

  • Upon walking into the office just before 9am, I am greeted by several cheery colleagues. I switch on my computer, followed swiftly by the coffee machine as I catch up with some colleagues in the communal kitchen.

  • I have a read through my inbox; I have received several emails from a client with feedback on a manuscript I am currently writing, a couple from authors commenting on the second draft of a poster I have helped to produce, and a vitally important email detailing the upcoming team social to celebrate the successful delivery of multiple posters to a recent rheumatology congress in Rome! The delivery of this project represented a real team effort so it is great to be able to celebrate its successful completion.

  • I head to a meeting room for a teleconference with a client. Several doctors from Switzerland and America, who are world experts in their field, are also joining the call. This provides a fantastic opportunity to hear everyone’s thoughts on an upcoming manuscript. The call is highly productive and I’m able to get a good idea of the main points the authors and client would like to cover.

  • Back at my desk, I quickly type up the minutes from the meeting and let my project manager glance over them to make sure everything has been captured correctly, before emailing them around to all participants. This gives me a chance to consider, in more detail, how I will structure the manuscript outline (which is the next step in the writing process).

    In a few weeks’ time I will be writing a full draft of the manuscript. This will involve researching and writing the introduction, gathering all of the data for the results section and drafting the key messages for the discussion and conclusion. I will then receive comments on this manuscript from the client and the authors, which I will address before sending out the revised manuscript for another review. This cycle continues until all parties are happy with the manuscript to be submitted to the journal for publication. Combining scientific rigor with compelling writing is one aspect of the role I particularly enjoy as well as the rewarding nature of working closely with leading experts.

  • I then turn my attention to addressing the comments on a poster I’ve been working on. I really enjoy this sort of publication, mainly due to the structured development process. Posters begin life as a Word document, which contains the basic figures and tables to be presented and the key messages as bullet points. This is reviewed by the client and authors, before being converted to graphic format, complete with smart-looking graphs and tables created through close collaboration with our in-house Design team. The particular poster I am working on is to be presented at a congress in the US next month, and includes some really exciting data which we have just received. The comments have come through via an online publication management system, so I make the requested changes to the poster and put together a document listing how each comment has been addressed.

  • After I have circulated an updated draft of the poster via the online system, it’s time for lunch, and I head to the kitchen to have a good chat with my colleagues before heading out for a walk.

  • Once back at my desk, I begin the afternoon by putting together slides on some recent articles which we have submitted for publication. Keen to get my team’s feedback on the presentation, I have also set up a meeting with them for their insight and ideas. I head to a meeting room to catch up with my team mates on this recent project.

  • I now turn my attention to proofreading a couple of abstracts which one of my colleagues is submitting to a congress in Japan. It’s exciting to think that our work is accessible to such an international audience!

  • Once I am confident that the abstracts are in excellent shape, I turn my thoughts to the next day when I plan to work on some materials to develop new service offerings for the Publications Division that will utilise my creative skills. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in projects that help drive the division forward, which is something I find very fulfilling. Finally, I fire off a few emails to round off the day, then I am ready for the journey home.