question marks on paper crafts beside coffee drink

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are my answers to the questions I get asked most often via email, DMs, and in Twitter comments.

1. How did you become a medical writer?

I started my Ph.D. program not wanting to be a professor and I always wanted to get a non-ac job.

In my 5th year (out of my 6-year Ph.D.), I started exploring job options. I thought medical writing sounded right up my alley. I did an informational interview with 1 person who was an alumnus of my university who became a medical writer, and I did my own research on the topic.

I applied for jobs but I failed to get any before I defended my Ph.D., so I stayed in my lab as a postdoc continuing to apply for jobs. 5 months after I defended, I got my job.

I detail this process in my Ph.D. to Industry Job Search Timeline post:

2. What do you do in your day-to-day?

There’s no typical day, but my days and weeks consist of about 50% reading, 40% writing, and 10% meetings and other miscellaneous, work-related tasks. This is not what every medical writer experiences, either, so keep in mind these are all my own experiences only. You should get insight from as many people as possible.

I discuss this in great detail in these two blog posts.

3. What helped you get your job as a medical writer?

This is a pretty good question. Keep in mind, the answer I give isn’t going to be the silver bullet for you and won’t necessarily help you get any medical writing job out there, because medical writing is a very diverse field with lots of different goals/product types.

I was specifically interested in medical writing jobs that focused on medical communications, sales training, and healthcare worker/patient education. Not the medical writing jobs involved in clinical trial and medical device documentation.

Many things helped me get my medical writing job.

One thing that really helped was my tutoring experience. My current managers (one of them actually retired!) LOVED the fact that I had extensive tutoring experience from my grad school days because it showed that I could communicate scientific information to a lay audience. That experience helped me do really well in the job interview assignment, which involved starting to make a product similar to what we make in our company. I mention this in multiple blog posts so I’ll link some of those below.

I have blog posts on this as well, so check them out to read about other things that helped. They include knowing about what’s out there in the medical writing space and talking to people in roles that interest me (even slightly).

4. Did you need any certifications or medical writing-specific training?

I didn’t need any certifications or medical writing-specific training. From what I’ve seen in job listings and what I see now (I still keep myself up to date on the job market!), I don’t think a medical writing certification or specific training is necessary to land a job.

5. How can I improve my resume?

Literally everything I could ever squeeze out of my brain in terms of resume tips are described in extreme, great detail in my most popular blog post on my blog, linked below. I included the cover letter one, too:

6. Should I do a Ph.D./does having a Ph.D. help with the job search?

This is something I’m still struggling with myself. I don’t know if doing a Ph.D. was the best choice for me, knowing everything I know now.

Sure, I’m VERY happy with where I am today, and I think I’ve set myself up for a nice career.

It’s honestly really hard for me to say any generalized statement about the utility of a Ph.D. because it depends on so many things like what the specific company is looking for, what career path you want to get into, your financial health, your interest in basic, exploratory research, if you wanted to be a professor or not (I didn’t), and so much more.

I did summarize my thoughts on the matter in this blog post:

Did I Need to Get a Ph.D.?

Less than a year ago, I was scrambling to set a defense date. Less than 3 months ago, I started at my new industry job as a medical writer. One thing that I’ve been thinking about recently and really mulling over is the simple question: Did I need to get a Ph.D.? … Continue reading Did I Need to Get a Ph.D.?

7. What can I do with my degree? What jobs are out there?

This blog post below has a list of over 50+ jobs that you can get after leaving academia, and all my resources are linked in it as well. Below that are two posts where I went into detail about a total of 12 cool non-labwork jobs that I wish I knew about during grad school!

5 More Non-Labwork Jobs I Wish I Knew About During Grad School

It’s been about a month since my last post where I introduced 7 non-labwork industry jobs I wish I knew about during grad school. In that one, I talked about medical writer, field application scientist, medical science liaison, sales scientist, museum scientist, and others! I did want to mention a few more fields, or realms, … Continue reading 5 More Non-Labwork Jobs I Wish I Knew About During Grad School

Other things I wanted to address:

8. Do I make money from this?

Did I start this blog wanting to become some big blogger influencer that makes a ton of money off of being a content creator or coach? Absolutely not.

I don’t make money from any of this and I never plan to.

I haven’t put AdSense on my blog, worried about SEO, converted readers to subscribers, sold a service, or anything like that.

My goal has always been to simply connect with others going through something similar. And hopefully in the process, help them, and myself, feel less alone.

Getting a job isn’t a walk in the park for most people. Leaving academia isn’t something a lot of people plan on doing, either, even if it was my plan all along. So I naturally found a pretty extensive audience and I’ve had fun sharing my experience purely for the sake of helping others.

Just know that even though this is my main hobby, and I try to be regular with blog posts, I might have other “life” things pop up, and a full-time job! But hey, I guess then you know my content is always super honest and shared because I want to.

9. What’s up with the anonymity?

I chose to be anonymous for a few reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to speak my mind as openly as possible, especially as I processed a lot of toxicity related to my previous workplace.

I also didn’t want to be using my real name and picture while I was applying for jobs. There isn’t anything innately wrong or risky about that. But if I was going to be sharing some pretty honest thoughts and my personal journey transitioning from one workplace to another, I thought being anonymous would be good for the overall goal of honesty and transparency I had for my blog.

Another thing is, I’ve always used social media anonymously. I don’t have an Instagram anymore, but when I did, I totally hid my identity. I never posted pictures of myself, people I knew, or shared my location. It was more like a photo diary. Same goes for Reddit. And now, my blog and Twitter!

Unfortunately, another big reason is safety. I just feel more secure doing this sort of public communication with a layer of anonymity. Plus, I think it helps people have fewer biases and see me for my content.

Do I think I’ll get more followers and readers if I share photos of myself regularly? Most likely.

But clearly from how I’ve used social media in the past, that sort of validation has never interested me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not for me.

I’ll add more Q&A’s to this page as I spend more time interacting with you all! I’ve had this blog and my Twitter account for less than a year (all established in Dec. 2021). Thanks for your readership so far!