Medical Writing

Whether you want to leave medicine completely and are looking for a new career or you want to pursue something alongside medicine, medical writing may be for you!

SO…WHAT IS MEDICAL WRITING?

Medical writing is a massively broad term and there are many different types:

  1. Writing regulatory documents for pharmaceutical companies and medical manufacturers as well as researcharticles, abstracts and reviews in medical journals.
  2. Educational content for medical professionals, (continued medical education (CME) resources and textbooks) and patients, (information leaflets).
  3. Writing for newspapers or magazines– writing content that is understandable for a non-medical audience.
  4. Marketing of healthcare materials aimed at healthcare professionals

WHAT WILL I NEED TO PURSUE THIS AS A CAREER?

A medical degree or a degree in one of the sciences (pharmacology, biochemistry) is definitely a must because you will need to be familiar with the terminology and interpretation of statistics used in clinical trials etc. So as a medic that’s that box ticked. Some medical communications  agencies do require a PhD or experience in a medical communications agency and evidence of previous work, (i.e. research).

Secondly, if you love to write, whatever type of writing then it will definitely be suited to you. Definitely write as much as you can and as many different types which will not only give you more experience but allows you to build a portfolio and reputation. If you are really interested in writing and building your career then there are many university or online courses you can complete. The European Medical Writers Association (EMWA)  has a number of courses and conferences for those that want to pursue a career in medical writing.

Depending on what type of medical writer you want to be you might have to take a writing test. Medical communications agencies medical communications agencies  in London may send you a ‘brief’. This could be researching and evaluating the literature for a medical topic.

An article by Dr. Suhasini Sharma about ‘How to become a competent medical writer’ has lots of useful information as well as ‘A guide to starting out in medical communications’.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS?

As with any job there are pros and cons and it really does depend on what type of writing you do. For example in a journalistic environment there will be the pressure of deadlines and writing stories in a particular informative way very quickly.

You must also be aware that working in a medical communications agency means that you are providing a service for a client and therefore you will not be able to claim any credit for the work in print; you may or may not find this a big issue. However, you will be exposed to many different writing styles and you will gain loads of experience working with senior members of the team.

There is always the chance to travel and work internationally attending conferences worldwide or settling abroad to work. You may even be able to start your own company once established or be a freelance medical writer and work from home. There is also no shortage of jobs!

The salary is reasonable although you will have to start from trainee or associate writer initially. However, depending on how fast you grasp things and how much work you put in you could be promoted to medical writer in under a year. The starting salary for a trainee medical writer can be £25-30,000 but this goes up to £40-£70,000 per year if you are a principal medical writer.

Ultimately it is up to you. This article might be of help.

Featured image from Health Edited

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