When talking about what my medical editing services can provide, particularly to new clients who are trying to get a sense of my understanding of my job, I usually end up making an analogy. I can talk about finding errors (both linguistic and scientific) in medical writing, providing consistency in materials, applying style guides to the language and to references, but there’s nothing quite as demonstrative as describing what I do in terms of something completely different, even if that sounds counter-intuitive. These are my three analogies for what I believe my medical editing is like.
A confession: I didn’t grow up wanting to be a medical editor. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who did, but that could be because I haven’t met enough medical editors yet. Obviously, I didn’t know what medical editors were, and it would have been difficult to explain the nature of the job to a young boy. Even as a teenager, I would have found it difficult to fully comprehend the position of a medical editor and why I might be suited for it as employment.
These five medical editing tips are a precis of my experience as a medical editor in healthcare advertising agencies. Working in healthcare advertising agencies is an extremely hectic but extremely rewarding experience. The variety of therapy areas and materials is stimulating and intellectually engaging, providing a very enjoyable working environment. Clients include some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and projects will include the launch of potential blockbuster drugs. This is invigorating but comes with tight deadlines and several medical/legal reviews, so the pressure is constant to maintain accuracy and consistency as launch dates loom.
My medical editing experience has been with medical communications companies and healthcare advertising agencies. The former tend to value editing because they are working on scientific publications, abstracts, posters, presentations, monographs, which need to distil a vast amount of clinical data into communicable information, requiring someone else apart from the writer to check it. Healthcare advertising agencies tend to work with smaller pieces, such as leavepieces, detail aids (although these can become quite large), journal advertisements, website banners and websites, which has led to a belief that the writers and account managers should be able to check for errors without a specific person dedicated to that purpose. Obviously, I disagree with this hypothesis, and these are my reasons why.