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How to Become a Medical Writer With No Experience

This article will help you become a medical writer with proven guidelines. Let's start reading.

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Rijvi Ahmed

Last updated on Jan 1st, 2024

How to Become a Medical Writer With No Experience

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Table of Contents

Are you wondering how to become a medical writer? Then, this is a great article for you. That’s right! Becoming a medical writer can be a fulfilling and flexible career choice. To achieve specific objectives, as a medical writer, you can offer your writing services to various target audiences, including patients, healthcare professionals, and the general public. 

Government agencies and pharmaceutical companies often employ medical writers to write, edit, and communicate on topics related to health and medicine.

Some of the core responsibilities of health writers include:

  • Understanding the roles and responsibilities within the team and aligning with them in the delivery of documents to meet project-related objectives. 
  • Scheduling and conducting document-related meetings, including preparing meeting agendas, main data points for discussion, and post-meeting minutes.
  • Preparing, editing, and finalizing regulatory documents, protocols, and related clinical documents, such as posters, abstracts, presentations, and manuscripts.
  • Collaborating with clinicians, scientists, and biostatisticians to interpret clinical study reports and ensure clinical study reports and statistical interpretations are clear in relevant documents.
  • Suggesting or identifying changes and improvements to the document preparation processes and templates to improve efficiency, quality, and productivity.
  • Creating and maintaining SOPs and work instructions to prepare and maintain compliant medical writing deliverables.
  • Completing scientific documents according to agreed-upon timelines and following up with the study team as required to meet timeline commitments and ensure SOPs and regulatory compliance.

What Exactly Is a Medical Writer?

It’s important to note that there are different types of medical writing, which can be categorized into three main groups: health writing, medical writing, and scientific communications. Each type of medical writing has a unique focus and audience.

Scientific communications involve technical writing and can cover a range of subject areas, including medical science. Scientific writers typically submit their work to academic journals and similar publications. It’s a great niche for people who are interested in staying up-to-date with advancements in the field.

Health writing is geared towards creating patient-facing or consumer-facing materials. For instance, a health writer might create a blog or brochure to inform patients or consumers about health-related topics. Health writing is written in a conversational tone and without technical jargon.

Medical writing, on the other hand, is formal and highly technical, geared towards professionals in the field. This type of writing overlaps significantly with scientific communications. Medical writers may be responsible for developing new drug applications for pharmaceutical companies to submit to the FDA.

What Do Medical Writers Write?

The expertise and contributions of medical writers and editors can be found throughout the medical community. Examples of their work include

  • Healthcare policy documents
  • Health education materials
  • Magazine and newspaper articles
  • Abstracts for medical journals and medical conferences
  • Advertisements for pharmaceuticals, devices, and other products
  • Advisory board summaries
  • Continuing medical education materials
  • Decision aids for patients
  • Grant proposals
  • Medical and healthcare books
  • Medical and scientific journal articles
  • Marketing materials
  • Poster presentations for medical conferences
  • Regulatory documents, including FDA submissions
  • White papers
  • Sales training
  • Slide presentations for medical conferences

How Much Do Medical Writers Make?

Becoming a medical writer can be a great career choice, and there are different types of medical writing with unique focuses and audiences. From healthcare policy documents to regulatory documents and medical and scientific journal articles, medical writers play a crucial role in the medical community.

 Salaries for medical writers can vary based on location, experience, and the type of work, with junior-level or beginning medical writers and editors earning an annual salary ranging from $52,000 to $80,000 and $57,000 to $75,000, respectively. 

For more detailed salary information, the AMWA Medical Communication Compensation Report is a valuable resource to consult.

What Does It Take to Be a Medical Writer?

If you’re interested in becoming a medical writer, having a combination of science and writing skills is essential. 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a medical writer, there are some traits that successful writers tend to share, including an interest in science and an ability to present complex data clearly and understandably.

While a degree isn’t always required, many medical communicators have advanced degrees in science or communications. Certifications and additional credentials can also help demonstrate your knowledge and proficiency in the medical communication field.

Related: How to Become a Writer Without a Degree

How to Become a Medical Writer
How to Become a Medical Writer

How to Become a Medical Writer?

The area of medical writing is new yet expanding. There are several phases involved in becoming a medical field professional, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about pursuing a career in medical writing. 

We provide you with a step-by-step tutorial in this piece on how to become a proficient medical writer. This manual would be an excellent option for you if you intend to become one in the future.

Get Qualified

It’s important to note that while a Bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement to become a medical writer, there is no specific degree program tailored toward this career path. Many individuals enter this field with a scientific background, while others come from different academic backgrounds. 

However, having a Master’s degree in life sciences or a related field can be an advantage, as many employers prefer candidates with advanced degrees. Some companies may even require a Ph.D. in life sciences, chemistry, or biology.

Another way to enhance your skills and credentials as a medical writer is by obtaining certifications. Many universities, hospital education programs, and professional organizations offer certification courses in medical writing. 

Popular courses include those offered by the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), the Drug Information Association (DIA), and the Medical Writing Certification Commission (MWCC).

For those in Europe, the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) also offers courses and hosts medical conferences. Additionally, reputable universities such as the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Diego, provide medical writing training and certification programs.

Build the Right Skills

There are several reasons why working as a medical writer is pleasurable, but stimulation is the main one. The task requires a variety of talents and is thought-provoking. 

If you’re considering a career in medical writing, you should be aware of the range of abilities and competencies needed to provide top-notch work. 

Thus, the following are some crucial abilities that employers value in a medical writer and help them stand out from the competition:

Domain Knowledge

Yes, having extensive knowledge of different therapeutic areas is essential for becoming a successful medical writer. 

In addition to knowing medical terminology, possessing a thorough understanding of life sciences and medical subjects is a must for a medical writer. Many employers look for expert medical writers with exceptional domain knowledge.

A solid foundation in fundamental medicinal subjects enables medical writers to effectively communicate critical medical information with healthcare professionals, medical device marketers, and patients. 

Knowing which companies are experiencing challenges in the regulatory medical writing department, which technologies are game-changing, and other relevant information can help medical writers tailor regulatory documents to the intended audience.

Analytical Skills

To provide knowledgeable and clear readings, medical writers need to be able to read through several texts and comprehend them well. 

They should be knowledgeable in frequent data analysis, documentation analysis, industry analysis, and product analysis because their work is viewed by a range of medical and non-medical audiences. 

They must be adamant about their analytical abilities, which make their outputs enjoyable to read. The ability to think critically is what sets the best medical writers apart from others.

Writing Skills

A medical writer’s main responsibilities include communicating scientific information and creating documents. In addition to strong verbal skills, medical writers must also be proficient in written communication. 

It is important to present information clearly and at a level that the intended audience can understand. Using proper grammar, concise sentences, appropriate punctuation, and logical organization of ideas can greatly aid in making the information accessible to readers. 

Furthermore, it is important to avoid using complex technical terms when writing for non-medical readers to maintain clarity.

Interpersonal Skills

Medical writers interact with other writers, clients, and stakeholders during the process of writing documents. Medical writers must possess excellent interpersonal skills. 

They may have to convey intricate medical information in a manner that is understandable and accessible. Effective communication skills also enable medical writers to convey deadlines, and important technical details, and exchange ideas and solutions during meetings with colleagues or clients.

Literature/Reference Search

A vast amount of medical information is accessible to the public. Besides books, medical journals, and academic journals, numerous databases are utilized to obtain medical information. 

It can be overwhelming to search through all the databases and websites for relevant information. To navigate this process effectively, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for, know where to search and choose reliable sources, plan your search strategy, use appropriate keywords, and execute the search according to the defined plan to find valuable information. 

Medical writers should also be familiar with the correct method of reviewing search results to determine relevance and organize useful information for future retrieval.

Understanding Statistical Analysis

Medical writers who work with medical research need to have a fundamental knowledge of statistics. Your role will involve analyzing data from clinical studies, which utilize various statistical methods. 

It is advantageous to have a basic understanding of statistical tests and techniques.

Attention to Detail

When creating medical documents of high quality, it is crucial to include precise information along with small details. 

As a medical writer, you are responsible for writing and reviewing scientific documents to ensure accuracy, consistency, proper terminology, style, readability, grammar, and more. 

Paying close attention to detail is essential for conducting effective research and guaranteeing the accuracy of all content within a document.

An Aptitude for Technology

Similar to other modern careers, technology is crucial for the day-to-day operations of the medical writing team. Professionals with technology experience are in demand. In particular, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and research organizations prefer those with document writing and management software experience. 

All these available solutions boost efficiency in the writing process, and the top medical writing teams use them.

The best word-processing programs centralize the entire process. They enable data collection document creation and management. 

So, it is good to have significant experience in using Microsoft Office and/or Google Docs. Having some skills in different writing and editing solutions can help medical writers create scientific documents.

Project Management Skills

Having strong project management skills is crucial for effectively planning and organizing the various steps required to complete a project and stay within budget. In the field of medical writing, these skills are especially important as writers often work across different content platforms.

Additionally, project management skills are essential for understanding the objectives of all stakeholders involved, keeping track of deadlines, organizing research and drafts, assigning tasks to others when necessary, and managing multiple projects simultaneously. 

Overcoming these challenges requires employing effective project management techniques such as strategic planning, clear communication, and efficient management throughout each phase of the project.

Time Management Skills

A skilled medical writer excels in managing and prioritizing projects. Often, they must handle multiple tasks simultaneously with strict deadlines. By adhering to a tight schedule and avoiding delays, they achieve excellent outcomes. 

The dynamic nature of their work is beneficial, and those who are motivated tend to flourish. Therefore, time management skills are crucial for medical writers as they enable them to prioritize their work and stay focused on the task at hand.

Get Relevant Work Experience

If you are new to scientific writing or looking to transition into health writing from another field, gaining industry experience can be challenging. 

However, there are several ways to build your skills and gain experience. One way is to volunteer to help with research papers with university faculty members in an area that you find interesting.

Another way is to write user guides and familiarize yourself with FDA documentation standards.

You can also offer to volunteer your time as a medical writer with state health departments to gain experience in a regulated environment and navigate the infrastructure of public health entities. 

Starting as a freelance medical writer can also help you build your skills and portfolio before getting a full-time job. You can offer your services to established medical brands or newspapers to gain experience and add to your client base, which can lead to more opportunities for work and professional growth.

Related: How to Become a Technical Writer

Create a Portfolio to Showcase Your Work

Building a professional portfolio is an excellent way to showcase your skills and experience to potential recruiters when applying for a health writing job. Your portfolio should highlight your strengths as a health writer and focus on the projects that you are most proud of. 

It’s important to make sure that your portfolio coherently presents your content and communicates your contributions, difficulties, and solutions. 

To make your portfolio stand out, consider framing your strengths as a narrative and walking recruiters through your process to showcase how you approach your work. 

You can also offer volunteer services to pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies to create content for your portfolio and build your experience. Additionally, including written pieces from your internships can also be a valuable addition to your portfolio. 

By doing this, you can convince recruiters that you have the necessary skills and experience to thrive in a health writing job.

Write Your Resume and Cover Letter

If you’re interested in pursuing a medical writing career, it’s important to build a strong resume that will showcase your skills and experience. Your resume should highlight your educational background, your skills overview, and any completed proposals you have. 

It’s important to list any experience you have in providing medical education or scientific publications or research you did. Any interests you have that demonstrate a creative flair can also be listed on your resume. 

In addition to your resume, you should also write a strong cover letter when applying for a job. Take the time to carefully read the job posting and tailor your cover letter to highlight your skills and how they relate to the specific job you’re applying for. 

Employers spend considerable time writing job advertisements, so you should also put in the same effort when applying for a job. 

Remember to proofread your resume and cover letter before sending them out to potential employers. 

A well-written and error-free resume and cover letter can make a strong first impression and help you land your dream medical writing job.

Use Networking

Building a strong network is crucial for success in the field of medical writing. It can be challenging to break into this industry, but by networking with medical professionals and other healthcare professionals, you can create opportunities for yourself that would otherwise be inaccessible.

One effective way to build your network is to join professional medical writing organizations such as the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) or the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA). 

These organizations offer a professional forum for medical writers to share knowledge and learn from one another. Additionally, attending meetings, workshops, and medical conferences can provide opportunities to meet and connect with other professionals in the field.

LinkedIn is also a great platform to build your network and connect with others in the medical industry. By joining discussion groups and actively engaging with others on the platform, you can establish valuable connections and stay up-to-date on industry trends.

Don’t forget to leverage your alumni network and reach out to universities in your local area to connect with other medical writers. 

Networking may take time and effort, but it can ultimately lead to new job opportunities and career growth.

Look for Medical Writer Jobs

That’s a great point! Building a strong portfolio and showcasing your relevant knowledge and skills is essential in finding freelance medical writing jobs. 

There are many freelance platforms, such as Fiverr, Upwork, LinkedIn, and Craigslist, where you can find listings for scientific writers. If you are looking for a permanent position, it’s important to have a strong resume and actively search for medical writer job openings.

Final Words

Medical writing is indeed a competitive field, and strong communication skills are essential for success in the industry. 

It’s important to have relevant qualifications and a wide range of skills to excel in this field, and the ability to work under pressure to meet tight deadlines is highly valued. 

Aspiring medical writers should focus on developing their writing and communication skills, as well as pursuing relevant education and training to improve their chances of success in this challenging and rewarding career.

How we've reviewed this article

Our content is thoroughly researched and fact-checked using reputable sources. While we aim for precision, we encourage independent verification for complete confidence.

We keep our articles up-to-date regularly to ensure accuracy and relevance as new information becomes available.

Written By
Rijvi Ahmed
Edited By
Murad Khan
Reviewed By
Editorial Team

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How to Become a Medical Writer With No Experience
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