Monday, March 26, 2007

So you want to be a medical writer?

Medical writing is one of the fastest growing jobs in the market, expanding at a 15% rate every year according to a 2004 report. Not only the demand for medical writers has grown, but their salaries have risen as well in the last five years as shown by the American Medical Writers Association’s salary survey.

In fact, a Money magazine report qualified medical writing as “an interesting six-figure occupation.”

The field of medical writing requires particular skills such as the ability of researching topics thoroughly and writing clearly. However, the most important element is passion—both for medicine and writing.

So, how do you become a medical writer? Below are five tips to get you started.

  1. Get some training. Depending on your background you may need to work harder either on your medical/science knowledge or on your writing skills. While physicians, for example, would need to take writing and editing classes, a person with an English degree would need to take basic science courses.
    Many certificate and graduate programs are now available for medical writers. You can find comprehensive programs that cover all types of medical writing or very specific programs such as the Regulatory Writing Certificate at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
  2. Join a professional organization. Professional organizations such as the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and the Council of Science Editors (CSE) offer new medical writers educational, networking, and career advancement opportunities. Members of these organizations will not only share your same interests, but will direct you to new business opportunities—and they may even offer you a job!
  3. Build some writing samples. Whether you look for freelance work or a medical writing position at a company, you need to demonstrate your writing skills with some published samples (sorry, but your A+ English class paper doesn’t count). You can build a portfolio by writing for your local hospital’s newsletter or by submitting health-related articles to Web sites such as
  4. Create a strong resume. Your resume is the key to landing a great medical writing job. A strong resume is free of spelling and grammatical errors and focuses on the qualities required for your target position. In other words, if you are applying for a medical writing job at a biotechnology company, your resume should demonstrate knowledge of the therapeutic area the company works on. The resume should also demonstrate your experience with the kind of writing you would be doing in the desired position.
  5. Submit your resume to personnel recruiters. Recruiters maximize the job hunting process by matching candidates with employers. They will look at your resume and then pass it on to the companies that are more likely to hire you. That means you won’t waste time applying for a job you are not really qualified for but wish you were!

Just follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to an exciting and lucrative career. For more tips, jobs, courses, certificates, professional organizations, market salaries, resources for freelance writers, and more about medical writing go to

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