The medical writing field can be a lucrative industry to work in. Lately, the demand for medical writers has been increasing as the number of medical websites, journals and other sources of information has exploded. Each year, more and more people are depending on the internet for critical information on their health and that of their loved ones. At the same time, everyone from healthcare book publishers to biotech companies and healthcare institutions are in need of writers who are specialized in explaining everything from cutting-edge medical operations and the latest research results. These organizations have to be able to communicate to the mass public as well as produce sophisticated writing for other medical professionals. It sounds like an exciting opportunity and for many writers it is. Plus, it is often a job that can be done remotely from any location around the world. If you like the sound of that, here are some tips on how to become a good medical writer and how to get your foot in the door.
Do you Need a Medical Degree?
What separates a medical writer from a regular content writer is their specific area of knowledge. A medical writer is familiar with medical terms, understands which publications are reliable, knows the research study language and format, can convert these to layman where needed and more. A background in medicine in the form of a degree can give you a great advantage. However, it is not essential. If you’re a good writer with excellent research skills, you can carve out your space in the field as you gain knowledge of the industry. Like many other writing fields, it’s not your experience on paper that matters but the portfolio of your work that you can put together. The longer you work in the field the more articles you will have to share with potential employers. A health communication degree might also help you in this career field as well. That said, if you’re already a medical practitioner and you have good writing skills, you can probably start making your way into the field utilizing your current knowledge and background.
Write vs. Edit
In the medical writing field, there are two different yet equally important groups: the writers, who research and produce content, and the editors, who supervise all produced content and sometimes help factcheck articles. Writers, because they do most of the effort, often get paid more. As a writer, you’ll need to read a lot of content in the specialized area where you want to work in order to understand the field as well get a sense of the writing style and tone used there. Formatting and error-proofing are always a big deal but a solution offered at CiteMedical.com can take away the weight of the arduous task, so you won’t suffer much in that area. Keep in mind that while the formatting guidelines differ from one company, website or journal to the next, all employers value proper document formatting. As for editors, they sometimes do not get paid as much, but editing is a great way to get your foot in the door. Why? Because you’re not required to have as extensive of a medical background if you have editing skills. Regardless of your choice, you should think about joining the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) as it offers certificates that can boost your credentials as a medical writer/editor.
Where Can You Work?
Within the medical writing field, there are many sectors for you to choose from depending on what you prefer and what you are more comfortable with. Some writers find they have a knack for advertising or communicating with the public, and for those who do, working for a PR department in a biotechnology company or a healthcare institution will be a good fit for example. Meanwhile, others enjoy helping to write research papers for professional audiences, and so, they’d prefer working in publications and for universities. Pharmaceutical companies also require medical writers to explain the chemistry and mode of action behind their products in a way that physicians will understand in prescribing to patients as well as in plain language for the patients themselves in pamphlets. Similarly, wheelchair and mobility aid companies require writers who can understand the pros and cons of each and every product they sell. Creating websites, brochures and articles is also part of many patient-focused educational programs. Medical articles are also a tool to increase a website’s ranking on search results page like Google by creating informative articles that generate a lot of traffic.
Now, you must be thinking about your next step. Here are a few options. One, you can start working on your writing by reading some medical content and developing your writing/editing skills. Two, you can join the American Medical Writer Association (AMWA) and take their tests in order to strengthen your resume. Three, you can join a couple of freelance platforms and try your hand at a few projects while building some early connections. The work will increase the size of your portfolio and support your resume as employers always prefer a writer with experience under their belt. Another option is when you have established a good professional relationship with one organization, they might look into hiring you full-time if you are looking for more stable employment.