Monday, March 23, 2009

Telecommuting as a Medical Writer

In the past, many new and aspiring medical writers have asked me about telecommuting: do pharmaceutical companies let you work from home? can you be employed as a medical writer without working on site? 

The answer is always yes, you can, and I have directed them to some other people's experience. Well, now I can talk about my own experience. I left Texas a couple of weeks ago and moved to the Pacific Northwest, but still work for I4PH in Galveston. 

Telecommuting rocks. Oh yes, I love working from home, but it requires certain conditions to be successful:
  • Good time management: With no real office hours and no clock in/clock out requirements, you must be disciplined in setting up your schedule. I start working at 6 am, for example, to make up for the time difference with Texas and to get the most important things done before the kids wake up and start making noise.
  • Family Support: Okay, you are at home and your children want to see you, and your spouse needs some help in the kitchen. Not good. You need your family members who are at home to understand that you are working. If you have a separate room for your office, great--close the door and come back out for lunch time. Until then, you are "away at work." You can be flexible, of course, and take some breaks. But these must be your initiative. In other words, if you just finished one project and want a short break until you begin the next, then go out and share some family time--but don't let interruptions cut your productivity.
  • Focus: It is easy to get distracted when you are at home--and your bed is at hand to take a nap; your favorite snack sitting in the fridge; the TV is on in the next room. You must focus on finishing your projects and not quitting until they're done. In fact, you can set up some rules, like only eating that snack until you finish the first draft of that manuscript. Then, the distractions at home become incentives.
The most important thing, however, is to enjoy your work. If you are miserable doing what you're doing, even if it is from home, you'll be better off going to an office and doing the type of medical writing you are passionate about. 

Thanks for reading and happy telecommuting!

P.S. Not being at the office anymore, it's harder to keep track of the days (at least for me). That's why posts to this blog have been so spaced lately--I just forget because now week days feel like the week end. 


A-DnA said...

I, too, am a medical writer who telecommutes and loves it! I am considerably more productive at home than I ever was at the office, because I am less distracted. No idle chit chat, no watercooler breaks, fewer meetings to attend, etc. Because I am responsible for my time, I will work extra hard during the day, so that I can have time to cook dinner in the afternoon before I pick up my daughter from daycare. One drawback I have found with telecommuting is that I can't match the name to the face for about 90% of my company. So, I try to drive into the office (about 2 hours away) every so often. Overall, telecommuting rocks!

Anonymous said...

I am a scientist with a lot of medical/scientific writing experience (for someone who doesn't do that full time). Where can I look for this type of job? I am extremely reliable, computer savvy, etc. I am ready to make the switch to a full time position, but I don't want to do free-lance.

thank you,


Anonymous said...

Hi, I, too, am interested how you both came upon telecommuting positions. Can you recommend websites, companies, or even recruiters?

Thank you very much for your help.