|James Corcoran talks to Smart Futures about his career as a medical writer/pharmacologist.
Your job title?
Medical Writer/Pharmacologist at Firecrest Clinical, Limerick.
What are the main tasks, responsibilities and skills required?
I work as part of a team who create videos that explain diseases and show how drugs work against those diseases. I have to do lots of research to figure out exactly how these work before writing a script so as to ensure anything we show is completely accurate. This is my main responsibility; to make sure that what we show is absolutely right. My job requires a lot of curiosity and imagination so we can make it as easy as possible for people to understand how something works even if it is really complicated!
Describe a typical day?
My day typically involves researching diseases and drugs, writing scripts and storyboards (which is like a script except it explains in detail what we want to see on screen and when we want to see it) and I also work closely with 3D artists who are the really talented people who make all the videos come alive.
The best part of my job is seeing what you have written come alive. It’s like when a book gets made into a movie really! Also it’s great to get positive feedback from people when they tell you that what you have done has helped them understand complicated science and when people see the videos and go “Wow!”
What’s not so cool? What are the main challenges?
Because we have to be so careful about what we write, we have to keep checking things even if we are sure that’s how they work. It could be compared to having to do your homework three times over, even if you think you did it right the first time.
Who or what has most influenced your career direction?
My family and friends have been my biggest influences. I wasn’t all that in love with school when I was younger and it was only when I got to college that I really enjoyed what I was studying. My parents always told me to do whatever I felt happiest doing and that was the some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Almost! Science is a really good area if you wish to work or travel abroad and I spent time in Australia after finishing in UCD. Some of my friends in different areas started working in a full-time job immediately so I feel like I have only recently settled down. I am happy with where I am working at the moment though and will hopefully be able to live the life that I had hoped for.
What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?
Apart from Maths, Irish and English, I took French, Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Yes, they absolutely did influence my career path. I wasn’t sure when I was in school what I wanted to do but I knew that the science subjects would give me a broad range of possible careers.
What is your education to date?
I went to Portlaoise C.B.S. secondary school, Co. Laois. Following that, I did a science degree in UCD where my main subject was Pharmacology, which is the study of drugs and how they work against diseases. After this I did some research in UCD on Diabetes and got a PhD in Pharmacology.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Pharmacology was a very good match to my job at the moment as it teaches you all about drugs and disease states and that is exactly what I have to explain in my role now. In research, you have to be very certain about what you are writing and that has helped me carry out research in my job at Firecrest.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
It probably helps if you are a bit obsessive about being right! Apart from that my job is perfect for someone who is generally curious and always wondering how things work and if you have an active imagination. My advice to anyone considering this job would be to imagine yourself doing this role and if you think you could be happy in this role or something similar, go for it. There are a lot of really tough jobs out there and the best workplace is a workplace where you are genuinely interested in what you are doing.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
This work is quite unique, but our job involves a lot of investigating so any work experience which involves research would give an idea of the day-to-day routine that we encounter.