Franziska Frey studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biomedicine in Munich and Bonn. After her studies and one further year of research, Franziska started as a Medical Writer and Project Manager in a small healthcare communication agency called infill . Here, Franziska tells us about her work as Medical Writer and the projects she manages there.
Back to your roots – what was your background before switching to Medical Writing?
The research project I started working on connected the two main areas of my studies: the in vitro (Biochemistry) and the in vivo part (Biomedicine) – and this was very exciting for me. The aim was to find an aptamer – small DNA/RNAs with properties similar to antibodies – that could work in a prostate tumor mouse model, with a possible clinical application in the future.
Why did you stop your research and started as a Medical Writer?
I knew since high school that I wanted to become a researcher and I wanted to find novel therapies for diseases. Later, during my studies and the start of my PhD work, I realized that the daily life as a researcher was different from how it looked like from the outside. Everything was very specific and I could only contribute a very small piece to it.
I always liked reading and writing very much, and by chance, I have to admit, I found a job advertisement and decided to try medical writing.
What does the work as a Medical Writer look like and what kind of projects are you managing now?
In my opinion, there are two different areas of medical writing. First, there are writers who assist in writing publications, scientific presentations or clinical trial protocols. Second, there is the marketing oriented track, which is what I am doing. While at the beginning my main work consisted of content writing, now I am more often managing the projects.
At my agency, I am responsible for a diverse scope of projects within one indication (IPF, a rare lung disease). I am realizing digital marketing projects for my client, a pharmaceutical company. For all of these digital projects, people with different background and expertise have to work together as a team, namely account managers, medical writers, graphic designers and IT experts.
So, to give you some examples, it is my responsibility to maintain websites for the product as well as websites with general information for health care professionals and for patients. Further, I develop apps assisting diagnosis and management of the disease together with my team. We set up animations, games or quizzes and booth applications for scientific conferences. In addition, we organize peer-to-peer events such as webinars about the disease with invited experts.
So, what responsibilities and tasks you are facing in your job?
It is very challenging to transform complex, scientific information like clinical trial data into an understandable and engaging format such as website articles, booklets or videos.
First, you need to consider whom you are addressing and hence write in a style which matches your target group. Therefore it is not about writing in your own, unique style, but rather about the love to convey a message correctly and in accordance to the regulations. Second, I always think about how to underline the information with graphics and design.
Third, you have to be very accurate and organized, to reference correctly and to manage documentations and different versions. In addition, when bringing everything together, an eye for details is required in order to find the smallest mistakes. Finally, you also need to be flexible and put yourself behind the brands’ and clients’ requests.
What fascinates you about your work as a Medical Writer and Project Manager and what are the challenges?
In my case, as I am working for a rare lung disease, there is not much information available. So, patients and physicians are very grateful for the information we are providing to them. And for me, it is very fascinating to create something that really matters to physicians and patients.
Before I started working in my job, I felt certain that pharma marketing would not fit with my values. However, now I have to say that the pharmaceutical business in general is extremely regulated and therefore also the digital marketing activities we do follow very strict rules. So this is something that I was concerned about in the beginning, but I am very comfortable with now.
When I am managing a big project, one challenge I am facing is aligning the whole team and thus ensuring a good result. There are timelines to hold, cooperation with other teams or agencies, sometimes limited resources and different levels of experience to deal with. So, in order to create a product of high quality, it all comes down to communicating well and anticipating the needs of your client. And in addition, you might also need to work long hours on weekends, for example when going to conferences or organizing webinars.
But in the end, I have to say that I find it extremely satisfying to finish a project and to end up with a product I am proud of.
featured image: colourbox.com