According to Allegro VP Neil Marmont, skillful medical writers remain difficult to recruit in the medical communications business. Nearly four years after looking to fill that gap by launching learning and development program Allegro, Ashfield Health is now expanding to allegro.EXCEL — a career development model that aims to channel senior medical writers into scientific leadership positions.

The program is meant to build upon the intensive, 12-month Allegro program by providing senior medical writers with the chance to accelerate and develop their career further.

“There’s a short-term need to add resourcing to our teams at the medical writing level,” Marmont said. “With this program we’re thinking about a career development model, so we’re thinking more long-term. We want to train and develop those people, so they stay with the business, become our senior writers and move into senior roles in the business.”

A medical writer is a key role in the business, responsible for translating complex scientific data into educational and clinically relevant material for different audiences — including doctors, patients, pharmacists and nurses.

The Allegro program, which launched in January 2018, originally aimed to provide an entry-level fast-track program that would recruit and train recent graduates and aspiring medical writers. Since then, the program has brought in some 150 people into the business.

“Allegro, in terms of its offering, was to ensure we could give people [the chance to] become a medical writer in 12 months, which at the time no one else was doing,” said Nicola Griffin, marketing lead and assistant programme director at Allegro. “There was no other business at the time in med comms that was giving people the opportunity to come without any knowledge of med comms, and to say in 12 months you could be a medical writer.”

The allegro.EXCEL program enhances the entry-level program by providing people with eLearning, training courses and the ability to choose one of three different pathways: team, content or strategy. The program also entails networking opportunities and one-on-one mentoring from senior business leaders.

“It’s about taking that group of people and offering them structured training development, coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities, and [the ability] to drive their own career pathways forward,” Marmont explained. “It’s about the individual taking control of their own development.”

The ultimate goal, according to Marmont, is to develop the best medical writers to strengthen the company’s ability to deliver for its clients.

“[We want people to feel] like they’ve got a home with us where they can push their career development forward,” Marmont said. “With that in mind, we’re thinking about what the business needs moving forward — what do we need to deliver for our clients so that the training and development we’re offering to this group of people coming through the allegro.EXCEL program is very much geared to what our clients will be looking for in terms of the future.”