Thursday, November 20, 2008

Free Teleseminar on Developing CME Materials

As announced before, I'm preparing a free telephone seminar for Thursday, December 4:

"What Every Medical Writer Should Know About Developing Continuing Medical Education (CME) Materials"

Click here to read more about the teleseminar and to register for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two Regulatory Writing Positions

A recruiter contacted me about open positions at VinCro Clinical Management Services, a full-service CRO that specializes in the management and placement of contract clinical staffing personnel. They are seeking contract Sr Medical Writers and Medical Editors with diabetes experience immediately. See below for details.

Title: Senior Medical Writer

Location: Northern NJ (3 days on-site, 2 days off-site/home office) (Near Hackensack)

Job Purpose: We are seeking a senior level medical writer to support Phase 1 / Pharmacokinetic studies involving diabetes. This is a full-time 3 month contract position with possibility of renewal based on candidate performance and company need.

Key Responsibilities:

1) Discuss, develop, produce, revise and/or update protocols and clinical study reports for preclinical and clinical studies

2) Responsible for developing IB's, components of Investigational New Drug, Clinical Trial Authorization, New Drug Application submissions, regulatory responses, and other clinical/regulatory documents.

3) Provide support to the assigned clinical development team to ensure clinical/regulatory document development needs and department standards are met, while completing projects within established schedules/timelines.

4) Mentor and train junior medical writers as required

5) Manage outside contractors as required

6) Facilitate conflict resolution across multi-disciplinary teams


Minimum Bachelor's degree (BSN/MS/PhD/PharmD preferred) required in biological, nursing or medical sciences

5+ years of relevant medical writing experience including protocol writing

Project Management experience with a strong track record of planning and organizational skills with minimal supervision

Experience in pharmaceutical industry Phase I-II pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic research is required

Knowledge of the development, regulatory, quality, and compliance environment within the pharmaceutical and marketing environment

Strong interpersonal and communication skills

Familiarity with ICH and AMA guidelines

Proficiency in MSWord, Excel, and PowerPoint

Compensation: $85-100 per hour. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.

Title: Medical Editor

Location: NJ (3 days on-site, 2 days off-site/home office) (Near Hackensack)

Job Purpose: We are seeking a medical editor to proofread and edit research protocols, clinical study reports, medical writing templates as well as check IB’s, IND, CTA, NDA, regulatory responses and other clinical/regulatory documents for accuracy and flow. This is a full-time 3 month contract position.

Key Responsibilities:

1) Responsible for medical, technical and traditional editing and proofreading by ensuring correct grammar, spelling, and typography of approved documents

2) Preparation of medical writing templates

3) Proofread and edit protocols and clinical study reports for preclinical and clinical studies; Investigator’s Brochures; components of Investigational New Drug Applications, Clinical Trial Authorization, and New Drug Application submissions; regulatory responses; and other clinical/regulatory documents

4) Provide editorial support to the assigned clinical development team to ensure that clinical/regulatory document development needs and department standards are met, while completing projects within established schedules/timelines

5) May supervise and manage medical editing consultants in the absence of or as directed by Senior Manager, Medical Writing or Senior Director, Medical Writing


Minimum Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Physical Sciences, Medical Sciences, advanced degree an asset

2 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in regulatory, medical writing or clinical development arenas

Strong interpersonal and communication skills

Familiarity with eCTD, ICH and AMA guidelines

Proficiency in MSWord, Excel, and PowerPoint


$45-65 per hour. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.

If interested, contact:

Shawn Varrin, M.Sc., M.B.A.
VinCro Clinical Management Services
6813 Sunset Blvd.,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K4P 1M6
Ph - 613-526-4267
Fax 613-526-6200

Monday, November 17, 2008

Consumer Health Writing Course Expanded

After the good response I've had from my risk communication talks, I've decided to include a risk communication primer into the Consumer Health Writing Course offered at

Not only have I added a week's worth of study material but have thrown in a couple of new bonuses for students. The new material will, of course, drive the price up. But you can sign up for the expanded course at the old price until November 21, 2008. Tuition will increase this Friday night.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coming Up in December

I have some exciting stuff on the making. First, I've been working with Indian medical writer Natasha Das to create the Indian version of my ebook, Becoming a Medical Writer. It has all the same information one needs to break into medical writing included in the original version, but with emphasis in the Indian market: rates, employers, CROs, professional organizations, and more. We will release the ebook in the next few weeks.

Second, I'm going to offer a FREE teleseminar on December 4, about developing CME materials. I'm going to have an expert on the call that will give you tons of information and guidelines for this type of medical writing.

Sign up for updates on this blog so you won't miss the details for this teleseminar.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Medical Writing Salaries By Region

I've had a couple of questions this week about salary ranges in specific areas of the United States. Obviously, if you're looking for or have been offered a position, you would want to know how much other medical writers in your region are earning.

Here's what I found in the 2007 AMWA Salary Survey regarding salaries by region:

Outside US and Canada: Mean, $88,809. Median, $92,000.

NY, PA, NJ, DE, Eastern Canada: Mean, $90,744. Median, $83,000.

AK, WA, OR, CA, HI, Western Canada: Mean, $91,537. Median, $84,000.

MA, CT, RI, VT, NH, ME: Mean, $83,670. Median, $85,000

WI, MI, OH, IN, IL: Mean, $78,044. Median, $76,000.

KY,TN, NC, VA, WV, MD, DC: Mean, $73,317. Median, $68,000.

ND, SD, NE, MN, IA: Mean, $76,331. Median, $71,000.

AL, MS, GA, FL, SC: Mean, $71,658. Median, $65,000.

KA, OK, TX, MO, AR, LA: Mean, $66,856. Median, $63,500.

ID, MT, WY, NV, UT, CO, AZ, NM: Mean, 61,298. Median, $58,000.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More About Developing CME Materials

I'm planning a new course for medical writers who want to learn how to develop CME material. Hopefully, we will release it soon. For now, here's an article from a guest blogger that explains why physicians need CMEs.

How Can Continuing Medical Education Credits Be Obtained?
by Li Ming Wong (Guest blogger)

While physicians spend many, many years in school prior to receiving their MD, it is impossible for them to learn everything there is to know. The medical field is simply too vast, and it is constantly in motion; therefore, it is important that every physician complete continuing medical education. Continuing medical education (CME) allows a physician to stay abreast of new discoveries, treatments, and other advancements in their chosen field.

What worked thirty years ago is not usually the method of choice for today's physicians, and clinicians who do not complete these continuing education credits may often be placing their patients at risk because of a lack of knowledge of treatments that have been deemed ineffective or hazardous. Unfortunately, often when a physician is wrong it is the patient's life that pays the price.

Due to this, every physician is required to complete a minimum number of CME credits every year; however, they are certainly not required to stop once that number is met. This does not necessarily mean returning to school, although this is certainly an option; however, for most physicians caring for their patients leaves them little time for the heavy workload of a secondary education institution. Many other more convenient options are available to them.

Across the nation hundreds of thousands of medical conventions, symposiums, workshops and conferences are available to healthcare professionals, covering topics from new surgical techniques to treat collapsed heart valves to the use of stem cells to treat congestive heart failure; all cutting edge technology not yet taught in the classroom. These often take place over the course of a weekend, often last more than one day and are held in various locations, so physicians from any location in the country may attend at their discretion. In many rural areas there is only one doctor available, often with no one to see to their patients when they are unavailable. These are the physicians who are still on call twenty four hours a day, make their own hospital rounds and see patients from birth to death for everything from a toothache to a heart attack. Needless to say they are often unable to get away from their practice to attend weekend workshops.

Another option is available for them so they can continue to provide their patients with around the clock care. The internet has opened up a whole new world to the field of continuing education.

Many organizations, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association for Continuing Medical Education (AACME) offer resources online for healthcare workers to complete their continuing medical education credits. Here clinicians will have the opportunity to complete coursework online, view online conferences and use the teleweb to attend lectures and symposiums.

These CME resources may be found free of charge or for a small fee per credit hour, depending on the situation; however, this is infinitely less expensive (and time consuming) than returning to a college or university, and offer greater benefits because attendees are able to stay apprised of new research and untried methods that are not taught to students. It is true that no one ever stops learning, and this is especially true in the medical field.

Continuing medical education allows clinicians to stay on top of their field and provide the best, most advanced care options available to their patients.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Medical Communications Positions

Communications/Public Affairs Officer -- Infectious Diseases Society of America

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has an opening for a communications/public affairs officer who will develop and implement communications initiatives to raise awareness about the Society and its goals among various audiences--including members, potential members, policymakers and other advocacy groups. The person’s primary responsibilities will be to write and edit two monthly electronic newsletters for IDSA and the HIV Medicine Association of IDSA. In addition, the person will serve as a primary point of contact for reporters, and will write press releases and coordinate interviews with physician spokespersons. The person will also be responsible for writing and editing other publications, brochures, speeches and talking points.

The ideal candidate will have a degree in journalism, English, public relations or a related field, and three or more years of progressive communications experience, including significant writing/editing experience and knowledge of publications processes.

Excellent benefit package (medical, dental and 401k), and a friendly, exciting, professional, Metro-accessible work environment in Arlington, Va. Please send cover letter and resume to:

Diana Olson
Director of Communications
Infectious Diseases Society of America
1300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22209 and

Friday, November 7, 2008

CME and Medical Writing

Here in the US, many states require physicians to earn educational credits every year to maintain their professional license. These credits are earned through continuing medical education (CME) courses.

Writing the content of CME courses for health care professionals is a lucrative opportunity for medical writers. The purpose of CME courses or materials is to update the medical community with the latest information on medical treatment, patient care, and other topics. CME content is delivered in many different formats, from self-study guides and monographs about a particular disease to multimedia presentations and educational videos.

Medical education is also directed to patients, who need accurate and reliable information to make decisions about their health. As a writer in this field, you would write patient education materials such as brochures explaining how to take a medication or how to cope with a disease, Web site articles, and video scripts.

Some medical communications agencies specialize in producing CME and patient education materials and they usually have medical writers on staff. You may also do this kind of writing at universities or medical schools, which often have a CME office.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Medical Writing Resources

At the AMWA conference, I became aware of a couple of little books for medical writers and since then have the opportunity to read some excerpts.

One is THE ACCIDENTAL MEDICAL WRITER: How We Became Successful Freelance Medical Writers. How You Can, Too by Brian Bass and Cynthia Landis Kryder. In this book, the authors describe their unique career paths into medical writing and provide some tips and lessons for aspiring freelancers. From what I've read so far, it seems like a nice motivational reading but lacks real hard advice on entering the profession.

The second is a booklet with a very promising title, Are you Thinking of a Career in Regulatory Medical Writing? A “How-to” Guide on Getting Started. However, the information is very general and there's no practical info about how to actually do regulatory writing.

Finally, I'm offering two-course packages at 20% off at Medical Writing