I'm sitting down to write this having just returned from the DIA Euro meeting in Amsterdam. As always, it was a busy and successful meeting, with many ‘themes’ of presentations being given at once. However, this year there were many presentations given around the theme of writing for patients and the lay audience; how risk and benefit should best be communicated to them, and even a whole session about how poorly the information sent to doctors and put inside package leaflets is written. I assumed that these sessions would be tucked away in a broom cupboard somewhere, and that the single other attendee and myself would have a pretty dull time of it, but I was delighted that not only were some of the sessions scheduled for the main auditorium, but that they were extremely well attended and generated lively debates following the presentations. It showed me that there is a real acceptance in the industry that we need to ‘do more, better’ for patients and prescribers, and that Pharma is very keen to do so. As medical communications writers, this is music to our ears (and not a new story), but I've returned hopeful and enthusiastic about the future of patient information.
This edition's article, by Jean-Louis Carsol, is a fascinating and brutally honest view of what it's like to make the transition from an academic background (in Jean-Louis' case from a PhD) into the hectic and highly stressed environment of a medical communications agency. Jean-Louis' background and transition is very similar to my own, and although I didn't go straight into an agency, many of his experiences are echoed by my own in the medical communications world of pharmaceutical companies. Jean-Louis has also ‘stepped outside’ of himself and offers an assessment of the many skills and attributes of someone with a PhD, and how they might equip someone for the world of agency writing. If you've never considered this type of writing before, Jean-Louis' article might help you to decide if it's ‘for you’ or not.
I hope that you enjoy the section and Jean-Louis' article, and as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Lisa Chamberlain James
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