How to get into a healthcare agency

Louise Lavelle, Team Lead of Healthcare Communications, Carrot Pharma Recruitment discusses how to into a healthcare agency and where it could take you.

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 trial 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 specialities.

Salary and benefits

Entry level positions generally start around £22-25K 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 a 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.

Personality traits

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 of 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.

I see people moving within healthcare communications, from medical communications to advertising or 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!

Louise Lavelle is Team Lead of Healthcare Communications, Carrot Pharma Recruitment

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