This presentation was given in a Technical Editing SIG webinar on September 21, 2015. It's just a slice of life of my experience, not necessarily comprehensive. #techcomm #techediting #stcorg @stc_te_sig
Hi, my name is Kelly Schrank. I’m a Senior Medical Editor for a company called Med Communications. I’m going to talk about Editing in the Medical Field, but I want to start by saying that this is my experience over the last 5 years. Other people’s experiences are likely to be very different. As you’ll realize as I talk more, my experience is probably not typical.
Notice the letters after my name? That practice is much more prevalent in the American Medical Writers Association circles than STC!
I was a technical editor and writer for 15 years before I took this job. I’ve been in a variety of industries and written and edited many different types of documents. (Examples: point-of sale systems for convenience stores, gas and chemical detection devices, and personality profiles for human resource. newsletters, brochures, marketing materials, Tech Notes, product manuals, training materials, forms, policies and procedures, corporate communications, website copy, social media posts.)
I’m a Senior Member of STC and I’ve been a member of the TE SIG since I joined. I’m a volunteer on and off again with the SIG, based on what else is going on in my life. I’m also a member and Board member of the Rochester, NY chapter, where I am currently one of the Spectrum conference co-chairs. If you’re in the Northeast, you should consider attending! We’ve already set the date, and I’ll e announcing the Call for Proposals soon. It’s right before the Summit, so it’s a great opportunity to practice sessions for Summit with a smaller audience, so you can practice and tweak your session before Summit. If you haven’t submitted a proposal for Summit, through, you better get on it, since the deadline is today!
And for the last 5.5 years, I have been a medical editor. When I joined this company, I become a member of AMWA, and I have gotten involved locally and nationally with that organization, too.
As I said, I work for Med Communications. Our clients are primarily pharmaceutical. And I would like to provide a little disclaimer here as well, since my experience is with only one of our clients; though it is the largest client and the largest team, (we are probably half the company) it’s not representative of the other clients. None of the other clients/ teams have dedicated editors.
I work remote from my home in Canastota, which is about 2 hours away from my STC chapter in Rochester and about 5 hours from my AMWA chapter in NYC. But it’s OK because most of the writers and all of the editors also work remote.
This is all from my perspective, not necessarily an accurate state of the whole industry
Funny that their layoffs became our employees. We are actually still growing as a company; we had 5 emails for new hires last Monday. I’m done hiring for a little bit; I just brought one person on board a couple of months ago.
So what do we do at Med Communications? As a whole, the company provides Medical Information. That seems like a broad description, don’t most people in the medical field provide some sort of medical information? , but that’s actually the name of the department or division we work under for the client. Within Medical Information, there is a call center and pharmacists answer the phones. When a health care provider, such as a doctor, pharmacist, or nurse, call the drug company with a question about a drug, the pharmacist will answer the question on the phone. But if the HCP wants the answer in writing, they are send a standard response letter. (They used to be sent via fax, but now mostly email.)
Which leads into what I do
The pharmacists act as authors, writing or updating the SR, then sends it to a couple of reviewers. One will do a data check, and the other will check it for flow and whether they answered the question. Sometimes they also go to Legal or Compliance. Once it’s done in review, it goes back to the author to incorporate changes and finalize it. After they are done with it, they send it to an editor.
We edit in Word and activate the SRs in Veeva Vault when complete. Then the fulfillment part of the system , which is used by the Call Center, combines the SR with a cover letter and it is emailed (or mailed or faxed) to the HCP. At this point, it is considered fulfilled.
Copyediting: Grammar Punctuation Spelling Abbreviations Tables and figures Format
Sometimes track changes and send back to them if they are new writers or if the SR has gone through extensive review (Legal, Compliance, and Medical reviewers).
Veeva Vault is a document management system with workflow and archiving capabilities.
Similar to many of you, I’m sure, I maintain the Style Guide related to SRs.
I’m also a member of SR working group – much of what they do to fulfill their mission is incorporated into the style guide.
And whenever we hire someone new, I offer them training on the style guide via WebEx,
Dossiers are created for Managed Markets: health plans, government payers such as Medicare and Medicaid, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), group purchasing organizations (GPOs), your insurance company. The dossier provides Health Economics (HECON) information that says why that drug is more cost-effective for managed markets to cover. It will talk about how different drugs can be used to treat a disease and what it would cost. So maybe our drug is more expensive, but it reduces time in the hospital, so it ultimately saves the insurance company money.
Every year or so, your insurance company provides you with a formulary to tell you how your insurance company will pay for your prescriptions. It’s divided into tiers, with Tier 1 usually covered at the highest level, with the drugs at the lower tiers being not covered or more expensive for you to buy for yourself.
Pagination, consistency; editing when I have time and am allowed. Time constraints often mean they don’t want to sift through edits.
We’re really begin to edit the slide decks created in Medical Information.
Medical Science Liaisons are out in field and have what they call peer-to-peer scientific conversation about the drugs. The decks are used to facilitate that conversation. They discuss products, disease states, and adverse events in depth; ,it’s not a sales call.
There is no branding; it’s not flashy. Graphics show internal workings of the body and how drugs work. Imagine pictures of cells inside the body and how they interact with the drugs. Tables show the results of studies that have tested the drugs. Everything is referenced back to journal articles (or as they call it, “the literature”).
iSpring is software that converts the PowerPoint file to HTML5, which is how the presentations can be shown on the iPad. The folks in the field access the presentations via another document management system on their iPads.
Just to summarize what I have been talking about and to give your brain a rest from all of the words, I have a few more graphical slides.
It really begin when I got this job. They had never had editors in this part of the company before. Growth has been organic as we take on additional responsibilities and the writing team grows.
And here’s the growth of the team, which has been necessary to keep up with the additions to the workload.
So how does one get into this industry? Well, I hate to say it, by my transition was a fluke. I saw an ad in the newsletter (online edition) and applied over the holidays, interviewed in the new year, and started in January of 2010. But there are some of the things I did once in the industry…not necessarily what you’d do to get into it, though I’m sure they couldn't hurt.
These are the workshops I took for the Essential Skills certificate: Statistics for Medical Writers and Editors, Elements of Medical Terminology, Essential Ethics for Medical Communicators, Establishing Style: Exploring and Developing In-House Guides, Tables and Graphs, Basic Grammar I, Punctuation for Clarity and Style, Effective Paragraphing
This advice is good whether we are talking about AMWA or STC, you learn a lot when you attend the conference and volunteer, because you get to know people. I recommend you attend the Annual Conference and Volunteer for your local chapter.
The BELS Exam is a 3-hour certification exam. It’s multiple choice and tests your editing skill (not specific to any style guide but uses knowledge of them). If you pass, when you are done, you can put ELS after your name.
Here are some ideas based on people I have met at AMWA and sessions I have taken.
Edit the articles before they are submitted to journals, or work for the journals and edit them when they are submitted.
Companies like Physicians Postgraduate Press has lots of editors for continuing education materials (but there are many others).
I haven’t met anyone that does this, but I have always been interested in it.
You could work for a hospital or university and edit grants for research
Other things listed on the AMWA website
Feel free to ask me any questions now in the chat, which Ann Marie will facilitate, or contact me later at my personal email, on LinkedIn, or through Twitter. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell you about what I do and medical editing.
Editing in the Medical Field 2015
Editing in the Medical Field
Kelly Schrank, MA, ELS
Senior Medical Editor
Who I Am
• Technical Editor/Writer
• 15 years
• Senior Member of STC
• Technical Editing SIG member and volunteer
• Rochester chapter member and Board member
• Currently Spectrum conference co-chair
Save the Date
April 17-19, 2016
Who I Am
• Member of AMWA
• New York chapter member and Board member
• Currently New Member Liaison and Membership
• In 2014, member of Annual Conference Committee
• Medical Editor
• 5 years
Where I Work
– Med Communications, Inc
– Pharmaceutical clients
– Remote, from my home in Canastota, NY
– Most of the writers and the other editors I
manage are also remote
What we Do
• We provide Medical Information
– Call center staffed by Pharmacists
– They are the SMEs/Writers
• Health care providers (HCPs) call for
information on drugs, and the pharmacists
answer their questions on the phone
• If the HCPs want the answer in writing, they
are sent a standard response letter (or SR)
Standard Response Workflow
Author Reviewers Author Editor
What I Do
• I edit standard response letters (or SRs)
– 1-25 pages long
– Standard, boring format
– Copyediting only
– Edit in Word and activate in
• Maintain and update US and
Global “Style Guides”
• Act as expert on AMA Manual
• Member of SR Working
Group, tasked with helping
writers shorten SRs
• Train new hires on Style Guide
What I Do (cont)
• I format and edit Dossiers
– Managed care companies/organizations use
dossiers to establish formularies
– 125-300 pages
– Need assistance with formatting:
• Tables of Contents
– Clean it up in Word, but provide track changes and
comments for many edits
What I Do (cont)
• I edit Slide Decks
– Medical Science Liaisons and others are in the
field and talk to HCPs about products
– Use slide decks to facilitate conversation
– 15-130 pages
– Edit in Veeva Vault using annotations; authors
decide whether to make changes
– Quality check final version in iSpring to make sure
it will look good on iPad
Growth in Responsibilities
Growth of a Team
FT Editor - US
PT Editor -US
FT Editor - US
FT Editor / Lit
Search Spec - US
Manager - US
FT Editor - Global
FT Editor / Lit
Search Spec - US
Manager – US
Manager – US
FT Editor - Global
FT Editor / Lit
Search Spec – US
FT Editor – US
Transitioning to this Industry
– American Medical Writers Association
– Earning Essential Skills certificate
– Board of Editors in the Life Sciences
– Three-hour multiple-choice certification exam
Other Types of Medical Editing
• Articles for academic journals
– Work for hospital or university
– Work for journal
• Continuing education materials and training
• Patient education materials
• Grant proposals
• Feel free to contact me:
– Kelly Schrank