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Industry Transition Spotlight: Nicole Bowens, PhD

An interview with Nicole Bowens, PhD, Medical Writer, Arbor Scientia


What is your favorite part about working in industry?

What I most enjoy about industry versus academia is having clear objectives and deadlines. As a medical writer in promotional medical education, I most enjoy being able to use creativity in the design and presentation of data across a variety of projects.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Typically, I start the day by reading the morning’s batch of emails. I may then review my timelines for my projects to determine what I need to accomplish for the day. Once I’ve determined my daily goals, I begin working on the assets for the day, generally ranging from slide decks to video storyboards. Once a draft is finished, I send it to my supervisor for review. The asset may have questions, in which case I ask for editing guidance such as selecting a reference to support a statement or how to address an unclear client request. This process may include several rounds of back-and-forth revision between my supervisor and me—and occasionally, the client.

When an asset is completed, it may either be sent to the client for feedback or submitted for medical, legal, and regulatory review, depending on the stage of the project. A day’s work may also include scheduled conference calls between the clients, medical writers, and project managers for a specified project.

How is your current industry position different than your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?

The biggest difference would have to be bench work. I am no longer in the laboratory actively doing experiments. In many ways, my current position could be seen as an expansion of my previous duties. As both a grad student and a postdoc, I occasionally worked on presentations for seminars and lab meetings. As a medical writer, I now devote my full time to these duties and similar tasks. The main differences in this area? I do not own my work, nor do I present it in any official meetings or conferences. In many ways, medical writing can be seen as customer service – as opposed to academia, which can be more self-guided.

If you could go back in time–before you received your job offer–and give yourself one piece of advice or encouragement, what would it be?

Know your worth and believe strongly in it.

What was the most important thing you did during your job search that enabled your success?

I believe the most important thing I did was networking with current employees at the company where I was interviewing. It was the best way to gather the information I needed in order to make a decision. I also encourage networking with former employees.

What is the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?

I would have to say meeting up with Cheekies at the last American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) meeting. It was an amazing experience and I look forward to seeing everyone again at the upcoming AMWA meeting next month (November 6th to 9th).

What do you see as the next step in your career?

I believe my next step is to keep an open mind to new opportunities. I believe one must always remain open – you never know what might come your way.

How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?

The Association and its members are vital in helping me to maintain focus, and they offer a wealth of insight and information. As is often said, “Knowledge is power.” Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. Staying active in the community is extremely helpful in gathering information about the field of industry work and the different possibilities and opportunities.

Now that you’ve spent some time working in industry, what is the biggest piece of advice you’d like to share with those Associates who are still executing their job search?

I think it’s extremely useful to make a “pros and cons” list for both the field you’re leaving and the one you’re entering. This method helps you to stay focused on your goals. Furthermore, I believe it is important to decide on one goal that is most important to you. For me, that goal was more stability, and that helped me to decide how to make my transition.


To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career like Nicole, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the waitlist for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Isaiah Hankel


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