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Nadia Fowler - Ashfield MedComms

What degree course did you study and when did you graduate?

I studied Biomedical science in my first year of university (2016), before switching onto the Medical Microbiology and Virology degree stream from my second year onwards. I graduated in 2019 with a BSc after three years of studying.

Why did you choose that particular degree course? Did you have a specific career path in mind?

When entering university, I knew I wanted to work ‘in science’, but I was unsure of what exactly that work would be. Biomedical science at Warwick offers a wide range of modules, meaning that the course can be easily tailored to your specific interests and future work prospects. In my second year of university, I discovered the Medical Communications industry following a careers event. It taught me that scientific communication wasn’t all papers and posters!

Tell us about your employer

Ashfield MedComms is a medical communications agency that works alongside pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals on a wide variety of projects that raise awareness of diseases and therapy options. We have a global network of more than 800 employees based in the UK, Germany and the USA. We work across a broad range of therapy areas with clients in over 50 countries.

What was the position you were recruited for?

Ashfield MedComms offer a training programme called ‘allegro’ which is designed to develop new writers into confident and motivated Associate Medical Writers - and beyond! I spent my first two months in training, with a dedicated team supporting me throughout. Following this, I spent the next year gaining experience on a publications and medical affairs account before ‘graduating’ and being promoted to Medical Writer within a year!

I currently work and collaborate with a large pharmaceutical company to bridge the gap between industry and the wider medical community – this is known as ‘Medical Affairs’. My job, in simple terms, is to clearly and simply convey scientific information. Examples of my work include symposia presentations at large scientific congresses, and medical education for both healthcare providers and internal stakeholders.

What attracted you to this position?

I was interested in Medical Communications following the previously mentioned careers event but was worried that I would struggle without a master’s degree or PhD. However, I found that the allegro training programme at Ashfield MedComms took on graduates with a BSc as they provide rigorous training. I was attracted to this alongside the opportunities for progression within the company. Career progression is aligned with your development, as opposed to only when a job opening is available. The nature of the job means that I get to keep up to date with key advances in several diseases/therapy areas – there’s never a dull day! There is also a lot of opportunity for travel (I would have travelled to at least 4 different countries in the last year alone if it wasn’t for COVID-19!)

What are the key skills you learnt at Warwick that have helped you with your career to date?

Through written pieces such as lab reports and essays, I was able to develop a great base knowledge of scientific and technical writing which put me in a great position when joining Ashfield MedComms, as I was familiar with the style of such writing. Additionally, my time at Warwick taught me time management, effective communication and keeping on top of multiple responsibilities at one time

What has been your greatest career challenge to date and how did your experience and skills help overcome it?

Honestly, my greatest challenge has been building resilience – I am in a job where feedback on my work is a daily occurrence. This can be hard not to take personally at times, but through my time at Warwick and the guidance of some incredible tutors I have learnt the importance of taking as much feedback on-board as possible in order to refine my scientific writing. Remember, just because it’s not ‘right’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong – taking all feedback on board allows you to develop and hone your skills!

What top tips would you give to students looking for a career in your market sector?

Flexibility – this is the kind of job where you can be writing abstracts one day, and then running an investigator meeting for a clinical trial the next! My top tip would be to use your educational experience to develop your time management skills so that you feel comfortable managing multiple ‘projects’ at one time

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were applying for jobs?

The only person you need to be is yourself, not the version you think you should be for the job role. It can be easy to ‘lose’ our personality and unique traits when applying for a job, especially now that most applications/interviews are remote and take place via a webcam! It is important to understand that it’s not that ‘you are not right for a job’ if you do not get offered a role, simply that the job isn’t right for you!

Any additional advice or comments?

Make sure you are balancing your workload with time off – always make sure to find time for yourself!