Becoming a medical writer is challenging but it is also an incredibly rewarding career. Medical writing brings you into the world of modern medicine and combines the requisite knowledge with advanced technical writing skills. Like other types of professional writing, accuracy, research, and the highest levels of grammar and language ability are all vital, but with medical writing, the subject is more important than anything else you may write in your professional career. With more and more people looking into the possibility of becoming a medical writer, it is important to know exactly what the job entails.
Here is everything you need to know about why medical writers are in such high demand.
What You Need to be a Medical Writer
The first important thing to understand about being a medical writer is that it is not a one-dimensional career. Medical writers play various roles across many different spheres. As a medical writer, you may work for charities, hospitals, government departments, medical journals, universities, or for a number of these as a freelance medical writer. As well as freelancers, many writers choose to work for a medical writing service as it can be easier to secure work.
Whichever route you choose, here are some qualifications which may be useful:
A Science or Medical Degree
To be a successful medical writer you should be passionate about healthcare and medicine, and also be a disciplined researcher and skilled writer. There are some prerequisite skills and qualifications which you may need to become a medical writer. A medical degree or a degree in science will give you the basis for the knowledge you will need to work across the field and will also ensure that you are able to attract high-level clients such as doctors, drug companies and clinical administrations. Your subject matter will usually be very technical and specific to the field in which you are writing. For example, you may be hired to write a user manual for a specific drug, and without having sound medical and scientific knowledge, this will be next to impossible.
A Language or Writing Degree
All that being said, there are medical writers who have managed to successfully enter the field without having a medical or scientific degree. After all, the goal of medical writing is to produce quality written content which clearly explains or communicates an idea or subject. This means that having fantastic written language skills can be just as important as having medical or scientific knowledge.
Having an English degree, a creative writing degree or another relevant degree which is related to language and linguistics can also stand you in good stead to become a medical writer. You may also be able to build a career in medical writing with a degree in physiology, sports science, or one of the other fields of study which focus primarily on the human body. Becoming a successful medical writer is all about building on the skills and knowledge you have and conducting high-level research and self-improvement to overcome the things you don’t have.
The Work of a Medical Writer
Medical writers lend their skills to writing a huge variety of different types of medical content. This may include journal, magazine and newspaper articles, scientific white paper, regulations, user manuals, scientific presentations, educational books and materials, periodicals, newsletters, and medical and scientific website content.
These different kinds of content cover the main two branches of medical writing; medical communication and regulatory medical writing. Generally speaking, medical writers who are more scientifically knowledgeable tend to do more regulatory writing, while writers with less knowledge are more suited to medical communication.
The Differences between Regulatory Medical Writing and Medical Communication
Regulatory Medical Writing is all about the technical side of medicine and may include writing reports of studies and clinical trials, safety updates, case narratives, value dossiers and regulatory support documents. Medical Communication on the other hand is focused on content which is aimed at educating and advising people such as articles in medical journals, website content, and medical textbooks. Compared to the typical content for regulatory medical writing, this content requires less specific medical and scientific knowledge and so the most important qualities for a medical communication writer are high-level technical writing skills and the ability to conduct accurate and thorough independent research.
Many people wrongly believe that becoming a medical writer is impossible as they don’t have a degree in medicine or science but as can be seen in this article, that doesn’t need to be an insurmountable obstacle. While this knowledge can be very important, especially in regulatory medical writing, skilled writers can build a very successful career in medical communication. As long as you have great language skills and are excellent at research and communication, there could be many exciting opportunities for you in the medical writing industry.