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This article is a part of a series of The Many Paths of Pharmacy, which has 48 other pharmacy career paths.
Summary – Pharmacists in Medical Writing
Drug information pharmacists refer to those who specialize in the communication of medical knowledge. Drug Information is sometimes known as Medical Communication (MedComms) and commonly referred to as Medical Writing outside of the pharmacy profession, but not to be confused with Pharmacy Informatics which pertains to healthcare technology use. The medical writing profession existed long before pharmacist involvement. Medical Writing and Drug Information are interchangeable for this job description.
Drug information pharmacists provide educational services about pharmaceutical products for healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical industry personnel, and consumers. They may be employed by medical communications firms, pharmaceutical manufacturers, academic institutions, managed care organizations, hospitals, professional associations, clinical research organizations, or other health care settings.
A Drug Information pharmacist’s efforts may be internally focused, for example providing services to employees of a pharmaceutical manufacturer or as an in-house library and information service. Or their focus may be external, for example providing information in a poison control center in response to queries from physicians, nurses, other pharmacists, or the general community. Perhaps more frequently, these pharmacists are manufacturers’ employees with the responsibility for providing authoritative information on their company’s products to pharmacists or physicians with specific information needs regarding a particular product (e.g., special dosage needs, unusual reactions). Additionally, many pharmacists are employed by medical communications companies or professional associations that publish authoritative drug information references.
Responsibilities of a Drug Information Pharmacist
Drug Information Pharmacists may also be responsible for the following:
- Creator and communicator of drug information via multiple modes such as whitepapers, research studies, medical summaries, newsletters, educational papers, patient information, and presentation
- Evaluation of literature, analyze statistics, assess prescribing patterns, and troubleshoot drug information issues.
- Organize and disseminate drug safety issues, adverse drug effects, drug shortages, drug alternatives, and other medication-related concerns.
- Anticipate and evaluate the drug information needs of patients and health care professional
- Appropriately synthesize, communicate, document, and apply pertinent drug information
This Pharmacy Medical Writing Career Description is a part of The Ultimate Guide to Pharmacy Careers, part of our future book, POTENTIAL.
Requirements of a Drug Information Pharmacist
Drug information positions require a PharmD, active pharmacist license. Experience, state license, and Pharmacy Specialty Board Certification or ASHP-Accredited Postgraduate Year 1 pharmacy residency in Drug information are ideal but not required.
Strong analytical, communication (especially writing), and managerial skills. These skills will be crucial for applying medical information to specific patient situation, counter-detailing and appropriate interaction with the pharmaceutical industry, creating effective and efficient literature search strategy, critically evaluating marketing and promotional materials and advertisement, critically evaluating medical literature, describing the drug regulation process, evaluating drug use policies and procedures, locating and critically evaluating medical information on the internet, preparing, presenting, and participating in journal clubs, providing verbal and written responses to drug information requests.
Salary of a Drug Information Pharmacist
According to Salaryexperts.com, the average drug information pharmacist salary in the United States is $125,298. In addition, they earn an average bonus of $2,894, but the range typically falls between $124,000 to $134,000.
This does not include freelancing as a medical writer. Medical writers can be paid hourly but more commonly by the project. A continuing education project could be $500 to $1,500, but the time involved varies based on experience, As one gains experience, the more likely they are to increase their hourly rate.
Pros and Cons of Being a Drug Information Pharmacist
Optimal work schedule and ability to create own schedule is one of Medical Writing’s best perks. Either choosing to be an employee or contractor likely holds plenty of flexibility. Most work schedules are Monday through Friday business hours, ability to work independently, research topics from multiple angles. Drug information is the combination of learning, researching, organizing and communicating complex ideas to a target audience. Pharmacists with teaching or writing abilities may find this path very rewarding. Also, there are several opportunities to work from home. It is easy for a drug information pharmacist to take on other roles in the pharmacy industry due to the transferable skills learned.
If a pharmacist is used to receiving work (like in a clinical setting), a medical writer position can be challenging due to the self-driven nature of the work. Working independently may be another hurdle for those who enjoy a social team environment. The Drug Information field is highly competitive, where pharmacists also compete against other healthcare professionals and PhDs.
How to Stand Out as a Job Candidate in Medical Writing
Prove yourself capable through gaining experience. Drug Information is perhaps one of the easiest career paths to gain experience due to the internet. It’s never been easier to create and share content online. By creating content and publishing online, you will be able to objectively prove your ability to employers. Building a digital portfolio is an excellent idea for budding medical writers. You don’t need a website, you can publish on multiple social media such as Medium.com or LinkedIn.
Prepared by: Kingsley Aguebor, PharmD Candidate
Reviewed by: Shoshanna Robinson, PharmD (Medical Writer), and Alex Barker, PharmD
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Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.