The demand for medical writing has increased over the past few years. The healthcare and pharmaceutical industry offers a number of job opportunities for medical writers, but one of the main questions our healthcare communications team are often asked is ‘what is actually involved in medical writing?’
What is a Medical Writer?
“One of the main questions our healthcare communications team are often asked is 'what is actually involved in medical writing?'“
Let’s go right back to basics with a definition. A medical writer is typically defined as a person who creates documents that clearly and effectively inform the reader of research results, product use and other medical information. Medical writers are not always those that have conducted the research or made the discovery, but they will have worked within the industry and will help to present the information in an appropriate way.
Types of Medical Writing:
With different purposed and audiences to target, medical writing can be broken down into different categories:
Medical Journalism: Mainly magazines and newspaper articles for members of the public. The language used is simple and non-technical.
Medical Education: For Physicians e.g. textbooks, e-learning etc. The language used will be technically minded as it is will focussed on those that are learning to become experts within the field of study.
Medical Marketing: Targeted at healthcare professionals whom would use healthcare products. This is used for handouts and brochures, e-learning modules and sales forces.
Publications: Including journals and articles for those that work within the industry. The language used to present findings will be more technical than that used in journalism, with in depth analysis of the research undertaken.
Research documents: Research proposals, clinical trials, study reports. This will be an in depth and full of technical language to appeal to the experts with in the field.
Regulatory documents: Patient information leaflets, clinical studies etc.
Which industries require medical writers?
The main settings where medical writers are required include the following industries:
- Healthcare product companies including Medical Devices
- Healthcare communication companies
- Media and publishing companies
- Medical and Scientific Societies
- Healthcare websites.
What requirements are needed to become a Medical Writer?
There are a few basic requirements that many of our clients require from medical writing candidates, the main one being having an interest within the area in which you would be writing for. If there is an interest it makes it easier for you to be able to sit a down, and understand what it is that you are writing about. Another important aspect is having the ability to write, combined with having the adequate knowledge and understanding of medical concepts and terminology. You will be required to communicate information to different target audiences of different reading abilities, which will demand a different level of language. Finally the information will need to be presented in a clear and concise manner, so if you are able to think about the overall look this is advantageous, but not a necessity.
An academic qualification such as a PhD within one of the life science fields would be advantageous, as it is a requirement from many clients but not for all. Knowledge and experience within the industry is regarded by many clients as there are those candidates whom will be looking to change their career path. If you are looking at entering the industry at a graduate level, it would be more beneficial for you to have an academic qualification as you would not have the industry experience. Any extra-curricular work that you may have completed whilst you were learning – any article writing for magazines or editing skills that you may have picked up whilst studying may also boost your skill set to a client and give you that edge over another candidate.
What will set you apart from other medical writers?
You may have the necessary requirements on paper that will show a client that you can write, but there are a few qualities that will distinguish you as a great medical writer from a mediocre one:
- Understanding the requirements and purpose of the project
- Write using the appropriate language for the target audience
- Researching the subject area as much as possible
- Scientific accuracy
- Attention to detail
- Being able to work in a team as well as independently
- Showing good communication and coordination with everyone who is involved in the process
- Having good time management, and meeting deadlines and commitments
Ask yourself this…
If you are still not sure if Medical Writing is for you – ask yourself these 5 simple questions:
1. Do you like to write?
2. Are you good at meeting deadlines?
3. Do you have good attention to detail?
4. Are you ready to leave Science?
5. Are you willing to learn a new field?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then medical writing could the next step within your career path.
We have a dedicated healthcare communication team who are specialised in looking for medical writers both in the UK and within Europe. If you would like to talk to one of the team and find out the options that you have available, please call the team on 01494 818 061, send us a message, or email firstname.lastname@example.org