How do you get your foot in the door of a healthcare agency and where could it take you? by Louise Lavelle
What is a healthcare communications agency?
Healthcare communications agencies support their clients with communicating information about their products. Their clients may include pharmaceutical companies, biopharma, medical devices and clinical research organisations.
The information communicated could relate to findings coming out from clinical trail data about new products, indications, efficacy, therapies and treatment options. The agency will work with their client to devise the strategy then develop the activities and materials most suitable for communicating their information effectively to their target audience.
Their overarching aim with communicating new clinical information is to change the behaviour (of healthcare professionals, physicians, patients) to improve patient outcomes.
The roles available
Roles available across healthcare communications are generally split between client services: account management, and editorial: medical writing, editing and copywriting type roles. Increasingly, healthcare agencies also have an internal creative studio with designers, developers, art workers and digital specialists.
Salary and benefits
Entry-level positions generally start around £22k-£25k and increase as the level of responsibility and diversity of knowledge increases. Benefits include bonus, healthcare, and an opportunity to travel the world.
Skills and experience
You'll need a Bachelor's degree ideally in life science, and for editorial roles, an MSc or PhD is preferred. A genuine passion for healthcare, engaging communication skills, and a strong team ethos will impress potential employers.
You'll need to be:
- warm and friendly
- comfortable using your own initiative and contributing ideas
- a strategic thinker
- a problem solver
- organised and methodical
- a collaborative team player
- a 'roll your sleeves up and get stuck in' type person
How to stand out
If you can demonstrate anything over and above sound academic achievements - such as awards (academic, professional, personal), publications, presentations, attendance at conferences, work experience and relevant hobbies such as scientific / health blog writing - then you'll be head and shoulders above the other candidates.
The career path
I see people moving within healthcare communications, from medical communications to advertising and PR, or from agency to in-house roles within pharmaceutical or a clinical research organisation. They can also transfer into roles in nutrition, consumer health or charities. There are plenty of opportunities available for someone in healthcare communications to develop professionally - the world is their oyster!
This article was first published in Pf Magazine, June 2019 edition.