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A medical communications specialist is someone who works to help others communicate to their customers about medicines, health lifestyle choices, disease prevention, and more. Medical Communications consultants work within agencies to develop, deliver and drive high-quality educational campaigns and medical communications for healthcare professionals and the pharmaceuticals industry. They focus on delivering engaging, medically accurate content for communication materials, digital initiatives and educational events.

Job Specification, Salary, Outlook
Medical communications specialists create and disseminate the important messages that help both individuals and groups understand illness and health. This role helps to shape the target audience’s understanding of health issues and solutions. Some medical communications specialists work closely with the research and public health communities and coordinate the reporting of major public health initiatives and clinical trials.    
So how much do medical communications specialists earn? It depends on several factors, but the average salary for medical communications specialists in the United States is $49,393 per annum, with a range of $30,885 - $73,381. Factors that affect the level of salary include job location, technical skills, medical field subject knowledge and academic background. In the UK, an average salary of £30,433 per year can be expected, with a range of £18,210 - £63,543.    

Job Description
The health communication field is highly diverse, and there are a number of specialisms within the industry.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Reviewing and/or writing submissions for scientific meetings, peer-reviewed journals, and presentations
  • Working with clinical and regulatory teams to review and/or write technical documents 
  • Overseeing report writing activities for regulatory submission documents, amendments and protocols, presentations and publications 
  • Responding to medical and product-related inquiries in an accurate, timely manner
  • Generating documents for health authority submissions 
  • Developing and maintaining FAQs and standard responses to support company products 
  • Staffing medical information booths at scientific and medical conferences/conventions 
  • Establishing and maintaining medical information databases 
  • Providing support to commercial and clinical teams, including distributing periodic scientific literature and reports to internal customers, and providing medical input for regulatory and clinical documents 
  • Creating and reviewing various medical education materials for external customers
  • Maintaining a working knowledge of medical communications functions, regulatory and legal requirements, standard operating practices, codes of practice and guidelines
  • Developing and revising medical information and standard codes of procedure

Key Skills & Qualifications      
A bachelor's degree in journalism is common, but health communications majors are now more so and can be a significant advantage. A few years of experience in business communication or healthcare is generally required for a senior position. Medical communication specialists must be able to construct messages for multiple media forms, including web and print publications, as well as audio and video presentations. 

Required job skills

  •  Understanding of scientific communications projects including advisory boards, disease state education programs and publication/congress plans
  • Experience with late-stage pipeline products and marketed products
  • Understanding of medical information capabilities, product complaints requirements, adverse event and literature surveillance 
  • An understanding of the pharmaceutical commercialization process and knowledge of the regulatory and legal guidelines affecting promotion of prescription products  
  • Excellent oral, written, and presentation skills
  • The ability to critically analyze the scientific literature to form logical opinions and communicate clinical information and key business at multiple levels   
  • Teamworking ability across multiple corporate functions
  • Experience in medical/scientific literature evaluation and identification 
  • Ability to multi-task, working on several projects simultaneously
  • Excellent organizational skill and meticulous attention to detail
  • Being comfortable planning and prioritizing while working under strict timelines
  • Solid understanding of the cross-functional drug development processes (biostats, clinical operations, data management and regulatory)
  • The ability to develop business solutions to complex problems
  • Proficiency with standard desktop computing programs (Excel, Word, PowerPoint) and relational databases 

Job Trends  
Medical communication is a rapidly expanding field with multiple paths and many opportunities to specialize and progress. Generalists typically begin with basic communications planning and outreach work. More experienced professionals might specialize in media relations and go on to lead communications management at agencies and major public health organizations.  
One advantage of being a medical communications specialist is that the job translates across multiple sectors. This role can be found in nonprofit organizations, major medical technology and pharmaceutical companies and health-related government agencies. In addition, institutions such as university hospitals employ health communications specialists, as do television news networks and newspapers that regularly feature stories and segments on health issues.