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Description of a Medical Writing Rotation: Is it right for your PGY1 or PGY2 program?

By Carly Warner posted 04-16-2024 18:00

  

While examples of clinical rotations abound, it is important to evaluate how non-clinical rotations like medical writing enrich a residency program. In a 2014 article, Brown and colleagues provide valuable insights and practical tips on the implementation of a medical writing rotation.1 This article coupled with prior firsthand experience completing Dr. Brown’s rotation provided the inspiration for piloting a medical writing rotation at our institution. We hope this post will inspire others to consider a medical writing rotation within their pharmacy residency programs!

A medical writing rotation during a post-graduate pharmacy residency program introduces the resident to multiple aspects of medical writing, such as reasons to publish, authorship criteria, and the process for submission and publication1. In addition, it provides many benefits to both preceptors and residents, such as having dedicated time to solely focus on writing to encourage creativity and allow for development of composition skills. ASHP competency objective R2.1.6 outlines medical writing skills expected of a postgraduate year one (PGY1) resident and prior to 2024 competencies included a manuscript suitable for publication.2,3 It is important to acknowledge that pharmacy residents may lack confidence in their writing skills since scholarly requirements vary by pharmacy school. A medical writing rotation can be the perfect bridge between that lack of confidence and a resident achieving their required competencies.

Brown et al describes three major learning components for a medical writing rotation: topic discussions, composition of a manuscript, and peer reviewing.1 Topic discussions should focus on the foundations and importance of medical writing, as well as activities to promote writing skills. Residents should learn about the different types of medical literature along with publication requirements when developing manuscripts. Major projects supported by this rotation include producing a manuscript and peer reviewing an article.1 While Brown and colleagues described multiple residents involved in the rotation including both PGY1 and PGY2s, we found this experience easily adaptable to an individual PGY1 resident.  Key adaptations included providing a curated list of manuscript options appropriate to the resident’s skill level, offering a medical writing round table, and authorship of thought leadership or opinion articles. Challenges associated with implementing a medical writing rotation include the overwhelming amount of information that exists surrounding medical writing, lack of available or qualified preceptors, and scheduling conflicts.  Brown et al recommends scheduling this rotation in December, February, and June since scheduling clinical rotations during these months can be challenging due to timing of ASHP Midyear, interviews, and end of the residency program.1

Residents can benefit from this rotation through achieving professional advancement and personal satisfaction.1 Improvement of long-term writing skills can be applied to future projects, such as formulary reviews, medication use evaluations, and newsletters.4 In addition, this rotation allows for increased resident independence and flexibility to work on other longitudinal projects. This rotation cultivates creativity and allows residents to think outside of the box. Developing reflection skills and habits that unearth the wealth of inspiration and manuscript topics present in a pharmacist’s daily responsibilities.

Consider the words of Benjamin Franklin, “either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” and ask if a Medical Writing rotation is needed in your PGY1 or PGY2 program?! 

Authors: 

Elaine Chan, PharmD and Carly B. Warner, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP

The comments in this blog are a reflection personal opinions and not necessarily those of ASHP or Employing Institutions. 

References:

1.      1.  Brown JN, Tiemann KA, Ostroff JL. Description of a medical writing rotation for a postgraduate pharmacy residency program. J Pharm Pract 2014;27(2):169–173.

2.      2.  REQUIRED COMPETENCY AREAS, GOALS, and OBJECTIVES for POSTGRADUATE YEAR ONE (PGY1) PHARMACY, COMMUNITY-BASED, and MANAGED CARE RESIDENCY PROGRAMS. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://www.ashp.org/-/media/assets/professional-development/residencies/docs/PGY1-Harmonized-CAGO-BOD-Approved-2024.pdf

3.     3.   REQUIRED COMPETENCY AREAS, GOALS, and OBJECTIVES for POSTGRADUATE YEAR ONE (PGY1) PHARMACY RESIDENCIES. Accessed February 29, 2024.  https://www.ashp.org/-/media/assets/professional-development/residencies/docs/required-competency-areas-goals-objectives

4.    4.    A Guide to Medical Writing for Pharmacy Students – James Lind Institute | Public Health School in Switzerland. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://jliedu.ch/blog/medical-writing-pharmacy-students/

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