Thursday, March 29, 2007

Guest Bloggers

In coming days I will start posting articles from guest columnists about different aspects of medical writing. If you have an interesting article that would fit this blog and would like to see it published, send me an e-mail to You will receive full credit and a link to your Web site, if applicable.

Thanks for reading!

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

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hot off the press!

I've been away for a couple of weeks but with good reasons. One, I took a week of vacation. Two, I was busy finishing my ebook. And it is completed!

Becoming a Medical Writer: How to launch a successful career writing about medicine and health is now available. You can read more about it, download a free chapter and buy the whole book at

All the hard work, all those months of research, interviewing, and writing are finally seeing the light. I think this is really a unique product. If you want to get into medical writing or know someone who does, go check it out.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Medical Writing Jobs

What are the "hot jobs" in medical writing?

From my recent tour around medical writing job listings I would say that the hottest jobs are regulatory writing, and medical education.

Both Contract Research Organizations (CROs) and pharma/biotech companies are hiring writers to work on regulatory documents to submit to the FDA ((INDs, NDAs, CTDs, MAAs).

On the other hand, medical communications agencies are actively looking for medical writers to develop Comtinuing Medical Education (CME) materials.

It is interesting to note two things about these types of jobs:
  1. They are the best-paid medical writing positions.
  2. They usually require an advanced degree and/or previous experience in medicine and writing.

I suspect, however, that although not prominently posted in job listings, medical writers are also needed for patient education in nonprofits, hospitals and universities.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Medical Writing Courses

It shouldn't surprise me since I have a degree in science journalism, but it is amazing how many medical writing programs, courses and certifications are now available .

There are programs specifically targeted to regulatory writing such as the Master of Science in Biomedical Writing and the Regulatory Writing Certificate at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

The more traditional programs in medical/science journalism at Boston University, Texas A&M, and the University of Minnesota.

And the surprisingly comprehensive courses at the University of Chicago.

These are just a few examples. The list, of course, is lacking the certificates one can obtain through AMWA workshops or the BELS certification for editors in the life sciences.

Please let me know if you hear about new programs being available.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Medical Writing Market Growth

Yesterday I found an interesting report from 2004, Medical Writing Market Appreciation. Although it is a few years old, the estimates it makes are relevant in 2007:

"A CenterWatch market research study shows the medical writing market has grown 15% each of the last two years, making it a $400 million market. While growth in the medical writing market depends largely on the pipelines of drug development companies and could slow as drugs now in the pipelines reach the market, most see steady growth in the medical writing field for many reasons, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent push for post-market safety studies, sponsor companies pursuing strategies to publish study findings in peer-reviewed journals, and the promise of new work that could result from intensive drug discovery efforts in the late 1990s and early 2000s."
These estimates agree with more recent estimates by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that say that demand for medical writers will increase in the coming years. It is always nice to know that.