How to Get into Medical Content Writing


The job titles: Medical Content Writer, Medical Journalist, and Medical Writer are becoming increasingly popular in the new age of Medical Education and ‘fact checking’ post-Coronavirus Pandemic. The responsibility of someone with one of these roles is generally surrounded around the publication of medical media to either a professional or general public audience.


So, what skills do you need?

-   Excellent communication: This includes both written and spoken, it’s also good to be able to alter your writing style to suit different audiences – depending on the company, you may find that you write content for both medical/scientific professionals and science lovers. Being able to write both medical and lay content places you at a better stance of securing a position.

-   Time management: Many times, you will be assigned more than one project at once, all with very close deadlines. Project deadlines are often quite short so it is essential that you can plan and manage your time well in order to get your projects done in time and at a good quality.

-   Computer savvy: You don’t have to be a complete computer genius, but being able to navigate the internet, word processing programs, graph programs and scientific literature search tools is important to ensuring your job is done as smoothly as possible.

-   Data analysis: Depending on the agency/company you work for; you may have to do a significant amount of basic data analysis to produce graphs and figures for your medical content. Being knowledgeable in basic data analysis using programs such as Excel to produce graphs and figures is essential.


What Other Things Can Help You Bag The Job?

Many medical writers have a life science bachelor’s degree as well as some form of postgraduate degree, usually a master’s or a PhD – do not worry if you don't, there are several Junior and Intern positions available depending on your degree level and writing experience.


Recruitment agencies are your friend! Building a friendship with a recruiter through platforms such as LinkedIn is the key to securing the medical writing position of your dreams. The job of the recruiter is not only to find someone best suited for their medical writing client, but also to find a job that best fits you. Letting a recruiter know exactly what kind of contract, medical specialty you want to write about and what kind of company you would like to write for allows them to pool all your requests into their large database and pull out a position best suited for you.


Majority of medical writers work for communication agencies who offer their services to companies in the pharmaceutical industry. Agencies typically specialise in different things, mainly: advertising, medical education, or legal & regulatory documentation. Your job as a medical writer varies depending on the specialty of the agency – you may be assigned to produce materials for doctors regarding medicines, new technology, diagnostic tests etc., producing marketing material or reporting on medical conferences. You may also transcribe recordings, video, or conference presentations.


Most agencies assign their writers with writing tasks across several scientific specialties, however if your degree or scientific experience is specific – e.g., a degree in neuroscience or cancer research, you may be assigned writing projects specifically in your area of expertise. This may also be possible even if you have a broader degree, like biomedical sciences, if you took specific modules during your degree or worked in a certain medical specialty.


As a medical writer, you may also work for pharmaceutical companies, health authorities, doctors’ organisations, or the government directly.


If you have vast medical experience and/or a higher degree (i.e., PhD) you may also be involved in writing reviews, papers and articles that will be published in medical newsletters, journals, or online medical blogs. For these jobs it is important to have a good knowledge of scientific terminology – this skill will most likely have come from your degree or any research/scientific positions you have held in the past.


On the other side of the spectrum, you (like myself) may also be given free rein to write about whatever topic – depending on the leniency of the company – you would like to write about. With these types of positions, your creativity and personal writing flair are allowed to shine, and you get much more ownership of your work.


In Conclusion,

If you are a scientist with a love of writing or a graduate looking for a way to use all the knowledge you gained at undergrad, the medical communications industry may be suitable for you. In this ever-developing digital world, more and more people, companies and institutions are moving towards online forms of communication to spread/acquire knowledge – so online medical communications is the industry to get into!

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