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URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / May 2017 / Diversify Yourself and Your Work Experiences

Diversify Yourself and Your Work Experiences

Career Story by Elizabeth Schiavoni, MS, Life Sciences Writing Solutions LLC 

I am excited to share my science and medicine communications and outreach career story with biomedical PhD students exploring broad training experiences at the University of Rochester Medical Center at noon on May 17th in the Northeastern Room (1-9525).

Image of ElizabethNot long ago I was in the same position. I left my PhD training to continue my career exploration outside of academics. Like a good stock portfolio, diversifying my work experiences through freelancing, and investing in teaching myself new topics and skills paid off. I am proud to hand out business cards that read, “Medical and Science Writer.” I have learned about an enormous variety of topics as an editor helping researchers deliver impactful messages. I have written grants I believe in. I’ve designed a wide variety science education content from scripts for YouTube content to online problem sets. I ran a successful public relations campaign for the Buffalo March for Science that resulted in job offers, including from my latest client, Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve. I have worked with community organizers, teachers, patients, students, and doctors. Every person I talk to professionally teaches me about who might be in my future target audience, making me a better writer.

In all my work, I am driven by ways I can help improve quality of life. I was drawn to lab work focused on microbiology and immunology throughout undergraduate and graduate school, because I understood the role even the most basic questions could have in designing sustainable, community focused public health solutions. As I continued my research training I recognized that impact can be completely diminished in the absence of excellent communication between stakeholders, including between researchers and members of the public. Since my writing was a noted skill, I refocused my career on becoming a professional science and medical communicator.

I am an open advocate for science, medicine, and public policy that is responsive to the needs of the communities and societies that make institutions like the University of Rochester Medical Center possible. I look up to Iris Long. A true pioneer in science communications and outreach. She studied chemistry and used her professional experience to make research findings on anti-retroviral drugs accessible to the Community Research Initiative and Treatment Action Group of ACT-UP, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Armed with this knowledge, ACT-UP successfully lobbied the NIH to more aggressively pursue HIV/AIDS treatments that ended the epidemic in the US. She has an incredible gift for translating complex information into narratives to effect lifesaving change. Her legacy reminds me of the importance of communication work daily.

In the coming months I will be speaking with medical and science writers in publishing, policy, federal regulation, pharma, continuing medical education, and numerous other fields at the 2017 American Medical Writers Association National Conference as a representative of the Sense About Science clinical trial transparency campaign, All Trials. I will be presenting on how professional science and medical communicators can help eliminate publication bias against informative negative results in clinical trials research reporting.

I am looking forward to the coming years in science and medicine communications and outreach equipped with rewarding perspectives I’ve gained both inside and outside of the lab. I am happy to speak with anyone interested in careers in science and medical communications and outreach on May17th at noon at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the Northeastern Room (1-9525).

Tracey Baas | 5/8/2017

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