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Exploring the World of Medical Writing in Italy: Interview with Daniela Longo of PopMed

We had the opportunity to converse with Daniela Longo and delve into the survey aimed at understanding the field of medical writers in Italy under the aegis of the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA).

Daniela Longo, a graduate in pharmaceutical biotechnology with a doctorate in clinical and experimental medicine, spent her early career years working in clinical settings before embarking on her professional journey in this sector. Currently, Daniela is one of the two partners at PopMed, a company exclusively specializing in medical writing for communication agencies and pharmaceutical companies. Her partner, Erika Nerini, with a background in chemistry and pharmaceutical technology and a doctorate in drug design, began her career at a small publishing house in Modena before transitioning to medical writing. PopMed, born in 2020, represents the natural arrival point of the collaboration between Daniela and Erika that began back in 2015.

The Survey and Activities of the Local EMWA Group in Italy

The survey, conceived by the steering committee of the Local EMWA Group in Italy, aims to shed light on the figure of the medical writer in Italy. The group, aware of the limited public knowledge about this profession, has already organized two meetings in Italy, the first in Milan and the second in Florence, in March and November of the previous year, respectively. These meetings highlighted the high heterogeneity of this small sector and the difficulty many people face in clearly defining what they do as a profession.

The survey aims to fill this gap by exploring who the Italian medical writer is, the languages spoken, the various activities, and the relationships with the labor market. In particular, the group wants to understand how many people perform this profession as freelancers, employees, and, as in the case of Daniela and Erika, as business owners, also assessing the economic gratification derived from this activity.

Daniela notes that “the survey is completely anonymous and is available on our Italian Medical Writer group on LinkedIn. It was conducted under the aegis of EMWA and with the technical support of the software house Officine Telematiche.”

For each of the mentioned categories, specific questions have been defined, providing a detailed overview of roles, incomes, and working conditions. “In this way, we were able to structure questions in multiple areas, diversifying them according to the type of people responding to the survey,” adds Daniela, in “a dynamic survey that prompts you to answer only the questions that fall within your area of expertise.”

As highlighted earlier, the survey, completely anonymous, investigates the income in the last year, aiming to provide insights into job prospects for recent graduates who might have just graduated from university and are yet to decide on their professional path.

Daniela Longo, one of two owners of PopMed

Skills of the Medical Writer

Medical writing is a complex sector that requires a wide range of skills, from the ability to understand and interpret scientific data to flexibility in identifying client needs, from professional proficiency in Italian and English to specific technical language for different pathologies.

Daniela emphasizes the importance of a European and/or Italian association that can support the medical writer, especially in the early stages of their professional growth. Given the complexity of the profession and the continuous evolution of the sector in response to market needs, the role of the medical writer should be seen more as a consultant rather than a mere writer.

Requirements to Start

In outlining the path to becoming a medical writer, Daniela highlights the lack of a universal plan or background. However, having a scientific background is an advantage. Some people start the activity by doing translations or coming from disciplines such as economics, developing over time the experience and skills necessary to work effectively. Not knowing the Italian landscape fully yet, it is important to remain flexible in this regard, but the situation should become clearer after analyzing the data collected in the survey.

For those embarking on a freelance career, Daniela observes that the choice of this path should be a matter of personal inclination towards risk and dynamism. However, in Italy, there are no particular constraints to open a VAT number, making the start of the activity relatively straightforward. The marketing and networking component can be managed through social networks like LinkedIn and affiliation with a sector association like EMWA.

How to Participate in the Survey

For those who wish to contribute to the survey and be part of this initiative, you can access the site The completion takes a maximum of 10-15 minutes and will remain online until February 29, 2024. To ensure maximum anonymity, no sensitive information is requested, only a general indication of age range and geographic origin for macro-areas.

As highlighted by Daniela, the data will be analyzed in a completely aggregated and anonymous manner. The complete results will be published on the EMWA website, accessible to all members, while a summary communication will be made available also for non-members at the national level.

Upcoming Activities of the Local EMWA Group in Italy

The Local EMWA Group in Italy has several future activities in store. The group is working on a calendar of virtual and in-person meetings, focusing on key topics for medical writing. All information will be provided through the dedicated group on LinkedIn, “Professionisti della Comunicazione Scientifica,” used for communications and updates.

We invite all science communicators to join our group and respond to the survey: the more we are, the more we will be able to network and understand our role in the Italian reality.

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