Ready, Set, Go, and Keep Going!

Perseverance pays off. The message stuck with me when I was writing this month’s profile article on Wendy Young for the American Chemical Society.

Young, vice president of discovery chemistry at Genentech, has a stellar career that makes many people envy.  As a graduate student, she was part of the discovery team that invented Alimta®, one of the most effective chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of lung cancer. As a research scientist and project team leader at her first biotech job, she helped discover and move multiple candidates into clinical trials for oncology and thrombotic indications. As a vice president of discovery chemistry at Genentech, her team has significantly contributed to the discovery of more than 17 clinical candidates.

Drug discovery and development, however, is not for the fainthearted. As Young said in the profile article, “There are a lot of failures before you hit on success.” And “You have to be willing to keep getting up after being knocked over.”

To succeed in the field of drug discovery and development, Young believes persistence is a must. I believe the same is true with any profession, scientific and medical writing as well.

Take regulatory writing, one specialty area of medical writing, as an example. The demand for experienced regulatory medical writers is high. But it is challenging for new comers to break in the field because most opening jobs require extensive hands-on experience. And once you have successfully entered into the field, you need to keep up with the ever-changing regulations and guidelines, the evolving drug development-related sciences, and the advancement of technology.

But perseverance does pay off. For those who are truly passionate about communicating drug discovery and development, the good news is that entry level regulatory writing jobs do exist, and you can gain needed experience even before you land a full-time regulatory writing job.

And for those who are determined to make it in the field, keep learning — there are many learning opportunities — and do not give up.

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