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Fact or Fake: 5 Fact Checks About Healthcare Communications

Senior Account Manager Amy fact checks five statements about healthcare communications.
1. You need to have a science degree to work in a Healthcare Agency

Fake news. Don’t write yourself off if, for instance, you have an arts degree or no degree at all. A higher education qualification in the sciences is not a prerequisite at all for a career in healthcare communications. I’ve come across people who’ve studied history, fashion, business and even graphic design and today work within healthcare communications.

Don’t get me wrong, it can definitely be helpful to have studied science, medicine, bioscience and the like at school or university, because it probably means you have an interest in science and healthcare. Many employees will still be intrigued by a candidate who does not have a scientific background, but is interested in working in healthcare communications, as it means they may be bringing something different to the table.

2. Agency work is repetitive and boring

No two days are the same in the world of healthcare communications. Work is often a mixture of proactive and reactive, meaning that you can be developing content for a pre-planned disease awareness campaign and creating an urgent response to a journalist’s enquiry on how Brexit will impact the pharmaceutical industry, in the same day. Managing competing priorities is a key skill for agency life.

3. It’s all about promoting ‘big, bad drug companies’

It’s true that you are likely to have pharmaceutical companies as clients, but by working with them you will see the ‘big, bad drug companies’ image sometimes portrayed in media, hides the much more significant fact that without these organisations the many diseases and illnesses we can prevent or treat today would be killing millions of people around the world. You will also meet some of the people who are still alive or whose lives have been improved by the treatments these companies develop and sell.  By working with these companies, you get to see how pharmaceutical companies are constantly investing huge sums of money in research and development to develop new and much needed medicines.

You’ll get the chance to speak with their employees, many of whom have come from science or medical backgrounds and are passionate about improving the lives of people living with disease.

You may also get the chance to work with patient organisations and see how determined they can be to campaign for access to new treatments.  It can be inspiring to work with patients, their family and carers, and it helps you feel like you’re helping make a difference to their lives. It’s a clich√©, but that’s why most people join the healthcare communications industry – because we want to use communications to help make a real difference to the health of others.

4. Agency life is stressful and hard work

Working in an agency can be hard work and deadlines can be stressful, but this makes it even more important to have a supportive working environment, and a culture that encourages you to have fun and to celebrate your successes.

As the name suggests, those working in this sector are, by nature, good communicators and are therefore usually chatty, friendly and full of enthusiasm. Most firms also hold an annual Christmas Party, a Summer Away Day and several social events throughout the year. From experience, these can range from an office outing to a real-life version of the gameshow the Crystal Maze.

5. Communications is just another name for PR

Most agencies now call themselves Communications Agencies and offer integrated services which, although may include PR, also comprise advocacy, policy, brand communications and scientific communications.  Don’t be put off by the terminology – it’s all about communications and knowing which channels to use to reach which audiences.

The way we communicate with each other and with consumers has changed so much over the last 10-20 years and is now evolving at a faster pace than ever. Within a communications role it will be part of your job to keep up-to-date with the latest means of communications and technologies.

As it is so important to ensure that the ‘voice of real people’ is represented in your healthcare campaigns, you may find yourself working with a wide range of audiences including patients, doctors, nurses, global disease experts and scientists.