Thursday, December 3, 2009

Medical Writer needed for physician-directed newsletter

Baylor University Medical Center is seeking a writer for its 8-page quarterly newsletter, CancerUpdate, which is sent to approximately 2,000 physicians regionally and nationwide. The writer will be given an outline for each issue, with major themes and sources for each article, and will need to produce a draft with about a three to four-week turnaround and revise it with one-week turnaround. The first issue is available for review. We propose a fixed-price contract of $4,000 per issue.

To be considered, the writer must have at least 4 years of writing experience, including experience with newsletters and/or experience writing for a physician audience. Experience in the oncology field is also preferred.

If you are interested in applying for this contract position, please send a letter of introduction with a resume and samples. The closing date is December 18, 2009, and a writer for the next issue will be chosen by January 8, 2010, with work on the winter issue to being the following week.

For questions, or to submit your application, please contact:

Rosanna Sandlin
Senior Marketing and Public Relations Consultant
Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas
2001 Bryan Street, Suite 750
Dallas, Texas 75201

(214) 820-3062
(214) 820-7499 Fax

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fellowships in Science Writing

Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting Announces Training Fellowships for Journalists

Two Unique Opportunities for Journalists to Focus on Science Reporting

NARRAGANSETT, RI – November 18, 2009 –The Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental reporting is recruiting journalists for two science training opportunities: the Twelfth Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists, June 6-11, 2010; and a Metcalf Institute Science Seminar for Journalists, March 31-April 1, 2010.

The 12th Annual Workshop offers fellowships for early to mid-career journalists to attend a weeklong science immersion program at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, a leading marine science research campus. The 2010 program Coastal Impacts: Energy Sources and the Marine Environment, will explore the value of different energy sources in mitigating climate change and how these options affect surrounding environments. A fellowship provides tuition, room and board, some travel support, and one year of membership with the Society of Environmental Journalists. There is limited space for non-U.S. citizens. Applications for the Twelfth Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists must be postmarked by January 18, 2010.

Metcalf Institute and the Brown University Superfund Research Program will offer a two-day seminar for mid-career journalists at Brown University, entitled “Waiter There’s a Phthalate in My Soup” – Reporting on the Science and Impacts of Toxic Chemicals. This seminar, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, will feature leading environmental scientists and journalists, visits to research labs, and discussions on the communication of bisphenol-A and air quality impacts. The Science Seminar for Journalists is tuition-free and includes lodging, but travel costs are not included and space is limited. Applications for the Science Seminar for Journalists must be postmarked by February 8, 2010.

Reporting on the environment, public policy, and even business, often requires journalists to explain complex scientific research and its implications. Metcalf Institute fellowships provide opportunities for journalists to better understand environmental research methods, cultivate scientific sources and sharpen their reporting skills through fieldwork and labs. Fellowship recipients also benefit from informal, off-deadline conversations abut environmental reporting with researchers and veteran journalists. Both programs are available to journalists from all media who are interested in learning about science and the environment. Applicants should have a minimum of one to two years experience as professional journalists and a strong interest in science reporting.

Applications for both programs may be downloaded at For additional program information, call 401-874-6211 or email

The mission of the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting is to promote clear and accurate reporting of scientific news and environmental issues; to strengthen understanding and working relationships between members of the scientific community and members of the news media; and to provide opportunities for beginning journalists to learn, on both a formal and an informal level, how to improve their skills in marine and environmental reporting.

The Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting was established in 1997 with funding from three media foundations, the Belo Corporation, the Providence Journal Charitable Foundation and the Philip L. Graham Fund, and from the Telaka Foundation. It is named for the late Michael P. Metcalf, a visionary in journalism and publisher of The Providence Journal Bulletin from 1979-1987. The Metcalf Institute provides science training for reporters and editors to help improve the accuracy and clarity of marine and environmental reporting and offers journalism fellowships in support of diversity and reporting on science and the environment. For more information, contact the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at 401-874-6211 or online at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More on Ghostwriting

Check out this NYT article on ghostwriting and medical writing.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Did you miss the CME Webinar?

We had a great response from attendants to the Free Webinar "CME Opportunities for Medical Writers." But many said they couldn't attend because of schedule conflicts. That's why we are offering the seminar again on Sunday, October 25th at 11:00 AM EST.

Don't miss this opportunity to learn how to expand your medical writing business. Register for the FREE Webinar at the link below:

Medical Writing Position in NJ

Sr. Manager, Medical Writing Job Description:

"Growing Pharmaceutical Company located in Princeton, NJ is seeking for a Sr. Manager, Medical Writing to join their organization"

Duties and Responsibilities:

-Serve as the medical writing (MW) representative on Project Teams.
-Provide input to the development of strategy for multinational clinical activities associated with registration and market support of a product.
-Review medical documents generated outside of MW (e.g. Study Protocols, Statistical Analysis Plans, Tables and Listings).
-Prepare/coordinate clinical documents as required (e.g. Clinical Trial Reports (Phase I – IV) and associated appendices, Investigator’s Brochures, Periodic Safety Update Reports, Annual Safety Reports, Ad Hoc Safety Reports, clinical sections of IND/IMPD/NDA/MAA/CTD). Resolve conflicting comments among reviewers and collate comments for submission to consultants/CRO as necessary.
-Prepare/coordinate clinical sections of submission (IND/IMPD/NDA/MAA//CTD) and responses to regulatory authorities, and implement medical writing activities. Interact with multi-disciplinary team members (regulatory, physicians, statisticians, clinicians, data managers and drug safety group) as applicable. Discuss the objectives, timelines, and documents to be generated; coordinate contributions from other groups and pull together the documents in a efficient, non-disruptive manner for submissions to regulatory authorities.
-Manage the activities of internal/external resources and medical writing vendors (i.e. individual consultant medical writers and contract research organization (CRO) medical writers).
-Prepare/review SOP’s and document templates.
-Manage projects within pre-defined budget, pre-defined internal resources and time constraints
-Providing status reports for ongoing projects

Core Competencies:

-Demonstrated medical writing skills and high level interpersonal skills to interact effectively within team and matrix work settings. Sensitivity to cultural differences.
-Excellent written/oral communication skills and highly proficient word processing skills.
-Working knowledge of worldwide registration document requirements including ICH guidelines, EMEA requirements and FDA guidelines and requirements.
-Ability to multi-task, deal with competing priorities, meet aggressive timeline expectations.
-Ability to think clearly, get appropriate input from different disciplines as needed, provide focused answers.
-Team player who is cost conscious, adaptable to change, excellent organization skills, quality focused, with proven analytical and problem solving abilities.

Education and/or Experience Required:

-B.S. degree, advanced degree/Life Sciences preferred.
-7-10 years experience in regulatory writing or equivalent within the pharmaceutical industry, including managing 2-3 global registration dossiers
-Experience with contrast medical and imaging modalities preferred.
-Experience with an electronic based document management system.
-Vendor/consultant management experience preferred

-International travel, generally to European countries required, approx. 15%.

Required Skills:

Join Aerotek Scientific LLCSM, one of the fastest growing providers of scientific and clinical research services in the nation. Due to our growth, we're constantly on the lookout for qualified professionals to place in contract, contract-to-hire, and permanent placement positions across the scientific and clinical research communities. At Aerotek Scientific, we know it's more than just your day-to-day responsibilities that can make or break a job. It's the support you get. That's the reason Aerotek Scientific offers a variety of benefits including medical, dental, optical, 401k, and many more. Don't put your career in the hands of just anyone, put it in the hands of a specialist. Join the Aerotek Scientific team! Allegis Group and its subsidiaries are equal opportunity employers.

Contact Information

Contact: Joanne Kang
Address: 371 Hoes Lane, Suite 203
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Phone: (732) 447-1194
Fax: (732) 447-1660

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Free Webinar Tonight

CME Opportunities for Medical Writers
Join us for a Webinar on October 15
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
• Continuing Medical Education (CME) medical writing can be very lucrative because it is specialized.
• There is a shortage of medical writers trained in CME, especially in the new rules.
• The playing field is as level as it will ever be for new writers coming into the world of CME.
• You can learn how to create valuable CME content for physician education.
• Now is the time to learn CME Training for Medical Writers and broaden your skill set for the future.

This FREE Webinar will show you how to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Title: CME Opportunities for Medical Writers
Date:Thursday, October 15, 2009
Time:8:00 PM - 9:00 PM EDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Medical Writing Publications Manager Position

Title: Medical Writing Publications Manager
Location: MD Gaithersburg - Corporate Headquarters
Req: 01879

Position Summary:

Major Duties and Responsibilities (including supervising others):
• Ensures the timely presentation/dissemination of clinical data from investigational pipeline products according to budget timelines strategic publication plans and tactical approaches.
• Ensures that strategically aligned scientific communication points are delivered and that statements and conclusions in publications (manuscripts abstracts posters oral presentations etc.) are accurate and supported by appropriate data.
• Oversees the entire publication development process working closely with authors thought leaders medical writers and other cross-functional publication team members.
• Ensures the quality and transparency of clinical publications by maintaining and promoting familiarity with ICMJE CONSORT AMA and other external standards as well as MedImmune’s publication policy and procedures.
• Creates and maintains publication records in the e-publication system and related files in the document management system ensuring that all author feedback and publication versions are archived.
• Leads cross-functional publication development team meetings and communications among team members.
• Participates in the development of strategic publication plans and tactics attends publication planning team meetings.
• Manages contract resources in the development of publications to meet objectives in a cost efficient and timely manner effectively using project management skills.
• Develops and actively manages relationships with journals sponsor congress organizations and publishers; prepares cover letters and response to journal letters and submits publications for review.
• Creates publication timelines and provides regular publication project status reports to Director Publication Writing and to publication planning teams.
• Develops and improves industry best practice in publication management; participates in the preparation or revision of SOPs and WPDs.
• Oversees the maintenance of database of bibliographic references across assigned therapeutic areas.

• 5+ years writing/editing publication experience in pharmaceutical industry communications agency or academic setting relevant to clinical publication development.
• Lead author of 8+ clinical/scientific publications or formal medical writing acknowledgment in 8+ clinical publications.
• Previous experience with management of publication-related vendors required; supervisory experience for direct reports a plus
• Strong track record (5+ years) in publication management required.

Special Skills/Abilities:
• Previous experience writing and editing peer-reviewed clinical publications (manuscripts abstracts posters oral presentations review articles etc.) required.
• Demonstrated ability to manage several projects simultaneously.
• Ability to analyze critically and synthesize complex scientific information from a broad range of scientific disciplines and clinical therapeutic areas.
• Ability to think strategically; demonstrated negotiating skills and resourcefulness.
• Demonstrated leadership qualities to gain credibility and influence cross-functional publication teams and external authors and thought leaders; high degree of influencing skills in shaping and developing publication content and wording.
• Demonstrated ability to make effective decisions even in the absence of complete information and when under pressure.
• Demonstrated ability to drive performance—holds others accountable for high standards and clarifies what needs to be accomplished and the consequences for the individual and/or the organization.
• Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively—seeks input and demonstrates an appreciation for diverse views by incorporating them into decisions/proposals.
• MS degree in a biomedical discipline required; doctorate level (PharmD MD or PhD) preferred.
• AMWA BELS and/or ISMPP certification a plus.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Medical Writing Position in Los Angeles

Scientific Communications Executive

Position Profile

Scientific Communications Executives work with public relations account teams to provide tactical counsel to clients and implement a variety of projects related to the communication of scientific or medical information. They also provide counsel to other healthcare offices within the agency network and assume responsibility for relevant projects and initiatives led by other teams.

Primary Responsibilities

- Interpret and translate complex clinical or scientific data for lay and science press
- Develop proposals, fact sheets, handbooks, animated tutorials (scripts), web sites/copy, press releases and other materials
- Communicate credibly with professional (e.g., scientific) audiences
- Ensure scientific accuracy of documents other team members prepare
- Instruct staff in the areas of science writing and editing as necessary
- Contribute to the development of strategic client plans (e.g., data communication strategies and tactics)

- Demonstrate a solid understanding of clients’ business and industry (typically pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device or other life science industries)
- Provide client counsel on tactical matters, linked to strategic plans and communication of scientific or clinical data
- Interact with clinical/scientific leaders on the client side
- Prepare and deliver tutorials on relevant scientific subjects
- Generate new ideas and opportunities to ensure client program success
- Assist with development of client presentations

- Understand industry issues that directly and indirectly affect the client
- Demonstrate a well-developed knowledge of relevant media (e.g., science magazines, major healthcare reporters)
- Draft media relations materials (see above)


Ph.D. in life sciences (biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, genetics, biophysics, etc.).

Professional Experience/Requirements
Proficiency with Word, PowerPoint, Excel
Excellent writing and speaking/presentation skills
1-2 years of related professional experience (PR agency or pharmaceutical/biotechnology company preferred); or
1-2 years continuing medical education/medical advertising experience; or
1-2 years experience as a journalist

Frank Orrico, PhD
Senior Vice President, Director of Scientific Communications
P 312.397.6632
forrico (at)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FREE Webinar: CME Opportunities for Medical Writers

As a medical writer, you may be feeling the pinch of the economic downturn – fewer clients, fewer writing opportunities, and lower compensation. But wisdom always says that downturns are a great time to prepare yourself for the next wave, and to broaden your skills so that you can ride more comfortably in any economic climate.

There’s been a temporary downturn in the Continuing Medical Education (CME) industry as well. Medical device and pharmaceutical companies, long-time financial supporters of CME education, have reduced funding because of claims of excess influence and bias over CME content. Congress, the media, and the public are scrutinizing the CME industry, demanding bias-free content that improves physician competency and patient outcomes.

The upturn is coming. How? Knowledgeable medical writers are changing the ways in which CME is designed, created, implemented, and evaluated. New funding sources are being developed, and CME is now being more stringently required in medical recertification and licensing of physicians, particularly in specialties – all to improve patient care.

These changes create a HUGE OPPORTUNITY FOR WRITERS who want to break into lucrative CME medical writing, because everyone in the industry has to learn how to create CME that meets these new criteria.

Here’s the opportunity:

• CME medical writing can be very lucrative because it is specialized.
• There is a shortage of medical writers trained in CME, especially in the new rules.
• The playing field is as level as it will ever be for new writers coming into the world of CME.
• YOU can learn how to create valuable CME content for physician education.
• NOW is the time to learn CME Training for Medical Writers and broaden your skill set for the future.

If you want to learn more about this great opportunity, you must attend this FREE Webinar on October 15th, 2009. The webinar will cover:

1. The changes and updated criteria for CME, as outlined by ACCME (the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education) and why YOU need to know them
2. What CME Providers are looking for in sourcing CME writers
3. Overviews of critical CME content areas
a. How to prove there is a need for physician learning
b. Creating educational goals and objectives that meet your identified needs
c. Creating CME content that is valid, current, and unbiased (from commercial interests)
d. Techniques that increase learning and improved physician performance in the clinical setting
e. How to construct post-learning evaluation tools that measure the effectiveness of your content
4. A brief presentation on how YOU can enroll in “CME Training for Medical Writers”, participate in a CME Internship Program, and how this can lead to your first paid CME job.

You get all this, PLUS, for attending this webinar, THREE FREE BONUSES to get you started in CME:

  1. The 7 steps of a needs assessment – proving that physician education is needed
  2. The 18 most frequently used sources to research the need for CME
  3. A one-of-a-kind Chart that connects adult learning styles with the different formats of CME, so that your CME can be learned by physicians most effectively


The details of your FREE Webinar:

Who: Hosted by Diego Pineda of, and
Presented by Johanna Lackner Marx, MSW, MPH of

What: FREE Webinar: “CME Opportunities for Medical Writers”

When: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 5:00pm PST, 7:00pm CST, 8:00pm EST

Where: Click to Register for your FREE Webinar here

Medical Tribune – Medical Writer Job in Singapore

Medical Tribune ( is a medical newspaper distributed to general practitioners, specialists and medical professionals throughout the Asia Pacific region. They are currently recruiting medical writers to work as journalists for their publication. This would be a full-time positions based in Singapore.

Qualifications / Skills

  • Degree in Journalism, Mass Communications or a medical/science field
  • Possess at least two years’ working experience, preferably at a publication or in an editorial capacity
  • Excellent news sense
  • Excellent writing, interviewing, proofreading, editing skills
  • Able to deliver high quality work under pressure of multiple editorial project deadlines
  • Time management and deadline-oriented: multi-tasking skills essential
  • Proactive and able to work independently


  • Writing medical news reports for a professional audience
  • Interviewing key opinion leaders in the healthcare field
  • Work with managing editor to develop news angles for articles and develop contacts in medical industry
  • Proofreading and editing medical news and scientific reports
  • Coverage of local and overseas medical congresses, meetings and press conferences
  • Liaison with the pharmaceutical industry
  • Work with managing editor on development of pagination plan
  • Liaison with in-house design and production team on development of design, layout of copy and print production
  • Background research in topic area as required
  • Developing advertorial materials as required
  • Editorial support for partner journals, as required


Paul Pimentel

Deputy Managing Editor

Medical Tribune

Medical Progress

Journal of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Phone: +65 6223 3788

Fax: +65 6221 4788

CMPMedica Asia Pte Ltd

No. 3 Lim Teck Kim Road #10-01

Singapore Technologies Building

Singapore 088934

Friday, September 18, 2009

More About Ghostwriting in Medical Journals

The controversy around marketing manuscripts disguised as scientific papers has created quite a reaction in the medical writing community. I'm glad to see that journal editors are taking steps to stop this practice.

This is what is happening, as told in this NYT article:

"... in light of recently released evidence that some drug makers have gone to great lengths to turn scientific articles into marketing vehicles for their products, some influential medical editors are cracking down on industry-financed ghostwriting. And they are getting help from some members of Congress.

"These editors are demanding that journals impose tougher disclosure policies for academic authors and that the journals enforce their own rules by actively investigating the provenance of manuscripts and by punishing authors who play down extensive contributions by ghostwriters."

These policies include retraction of the papers, and that “authors found to have not declared such interest should be banned from any subsequent publication in the journal and their misconduct reported to their institutions.”

That's all good and clear and hopefully they will actually implement these policies. But what about the medical writers that willingly ghostwrite articles at the request of pharmaceutical companies--sometimes slanting data? Should they be "punished" also? If so, how can we do that? And who would do it? AMWA? Congress?

Should ghostwriting be regulated in medical writing? What do you think?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Online Education & Medical Writing

From a NYT article:

A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

I've always thought that online education has many benefits (accessibility and affordability), but wasn't sure about its effectiveness when compared to on-site training. This is reassuring, because we are trying to take medical writing education online.

What is your experience with online education? Do you think you learn more than in a classroom setting?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

CME Position for a Medical Writer in Dallas TX

The Medical Writer provides content for continuing medical education (CME) activities including, print, online and live meetings as well as non-CME publications such as peer-reviewed journals and direct-to-patient magazines. This is a unique opportunity to apply your years of science training to an alternative career. You will interface with key thought leaders in the oncology community and your work will make a direct impact in the dissemination of cutting-edge information.

Functions include:
Research and evaluate current medical and scientific literature.
Develop content to meet internal customer requirements and requests including but not limited to:

-Needs assessments for grant proposals;
-Educational objectives and agendas for CME meetings;
-Articles for newsletters and journals;
-Slide kits;
-CME documentation.

Work collaboratively with thought leaders, program chairs, consulting faculty and supporters as necessary for content development.
Attend company and other relevant scientific meetings.
Review articles and slide sets submitted by faculty for scientific accuracy.
Meet established production timelines regularly and consistently.
Provide data necessary for departmental reporting activities including regular status reports as established by Director.
Assist in training new Medical Writers as requested.

You are well qualified for this opportunity if you hold a Ph.D. in a scientific discipline and, ideally, have 2 years of medical or scientific writing experience.

If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, please email to all of the following:

1. Resume in Word or Txt format
2. Salary requirement or history
3. Work authorization (H1B, green card holder, citizen, etc)
4. Relocation considerations, if applicable.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Medical Writing and Ghostwriting

I think this was going to happen sooner or later: the US Senate is moving to stop scientific ghostwriting.

In the past decade (probably more), pharmaceutical companies have been hiring writers to prepare positive journal articles about their products and then pay researchers to lay their names as authors. This ghostwriting practice has been abused to the extent that these papers try to minimize the risks of drugs that have been otherwise shown as high-risk in independent research.

What strikes me about this issue (and the info in this NYT article) is the involvement of a medical writing company:

The documents offer a look at the inner workings of DesignWrite, a medical writing company hired by Wyeth to prepare an estimated 60 articles favorable to its hormone drugs. In one publication plan, for example, DesignWrite wrote that the goal of the Wyeth articles was to de-emphasize the risk of breast cancer associated with hormone drugs, promote the drugs as beneficial and blunt competing drugs. The articles were published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005 — continuing even though a big federal study was suspended in 2002 after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer and heart disease.
Sometimes medical writers walk a thin line when working for the pharmaceutical industry, but this is a blatant sell-out that gives a bad name to our profession. It used to be that the ghostwriter's goal was to organize the researcher's notes and data into a cohesive and clear article. I don't see anything wrong with that. But to publish marketing material as research is simply unethical. Click here to read an old post about AMWA's position on ghostwriting.

I hope universities take a stand against this issue and enforce their regulations on pharma-sponsored faculty.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Become a CME Specialist

I've asked Johanna Lackner Marx to share some ideas about how medical writers can increase their marketability during this slow economy. As many of you know, Johanna is the Founder and President of InQuill Medical Communications, LLC. She has been a trainer and consultant in the CME industry for 15 years. She has created a comprehensive course on specifically geared toward medical writers interested in entering the CME industry, CME Training for Medical Writers.

In a series entitled "Succeed in a Down Economy - Put CME to Your Toolbox", Johanna will write about how medical writers can benefit from the recent changes in CME.

Part 1: Using the Slump to Get Over the Hump

Guest Blog by Johanna Lackner Marx, MPH, MSW
InQuill Medical Communications, LLC
CME Training for Medical Writers

There is no doubt that the recession is affecting a lot of freelance medical writers. A friend of mine, who writes consumer health and patient education articles, recently told me that her business has decreased forty percent. Like a lot of us, she chose the freelance/entrepreneurial route over steady employment in order to be her own boss and have more control over her time and the type of work she does. Now, she says, she’s lucky to get enough new work to cover her basic expenses. She spends her day combing the Internet, sending out her CV, reaching out to contacts, and making cold-calls to strangers. Sound familiar? Last week during a well-deserved rant of frustration, she told me, “Until things turn around, I might as well use this time to learn statistics so I can finally tell the difference between a risk ratio and an odds ration instead of faking it.”

Using the slow down in the market to learn another skill is a good idea and a lot of writers are doing it. This year AMWA is offering over 100 educational sessions during the 3-day annual conference in October so members can “…gain new areas of expertise that can enhance their skills in the many facets of medical communication.” In addition to AMWA’s workshops, Diego lists eleven medical writing programs in his e-book Becoming a Medical Writer. He recently shared with me that his website, has gotten a record number of hits in the past six months. The interest and demand is there.

When students fill out their enrollment form for CME Training for Medical Writers, they are asked to state why they decided to take my course. I’ve been surprised by the uniformity of responses. A few students have been successful regulatory or clinical trials writers, but want to work in a field where there is a more immediate sense of mission. Others are just starting out as medical writers and have decided they want to learn how to do CME. But the majority of students, like my friend, are accomplished medical writers who have taken a financial hit and want to add to their skill set so they can be more marketable.

In my next blog, I will tell you about some of the recent changes in the CME industry and how these changes have created a great opportunity for medical writers who know the regulations, the CME development process, and how to create effective content that physicians learn, retain, and use in the clinical setting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

AMWA Annual Conference Registration Now Open

I just received this notice from AMWA:

AMWA Annual Conference October 22-24, 2009


The registration brochure has been posted and registration is now open!


Remember, workshops fill quickly, and you’ll need 2 alternatives in case your first choice is not available when your registration form is processed. All registration forms are processed by AMWA headquarters in the order received, whether online, mailed, or faxed. Headquarters typically receives 400 registrations in the first day. Be prepared and give staff time to process!


Available breakfast roundtables agendas have been linked in the registration brochure.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Become a CME Specialist

This past week I heard good news from Johanna Lackner-Marx about her CME course for medical writers.

Some of her graduates are now placed at MECCs and CME departments completing two-month fellowships. The fellowships are a success and she anticipates that they will be hired by their placements to complete work they started during the fellowship.

This is a unique training program that not only gives you the tools to become a Continuing Medical Education specialist (that is, develop CME courses for physicians), but gives you the chance of participating in a fellowship conducting to a job.

The course was launched late 2008 but Johanna has reworked the content with the feedback and needs of her first graduates. Click here to see the new outline. If you want more information or to enroll in the course, go to

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Importance of Networking When Job Hunting

Reading a NYT article over the weekend, I was reminded of the importance of networking when looking for a job or simply more freelance work. One phrase from the article stuck with me: "I tapped into a network of colleagues and friends and told everyone I was job hunting."

It occurred to me that sometimes we can be too proud or even ashamed to tell people we are looking for work, but that we shouldn't be--otherwise we'll miss some good job leads. This is specially true in freelance medical writing, where clients ask their networks for referrals to hire new medical writers. 

A few months ago, I began transitioning from a full time job to telecommuting, then to part time and now into freelancing. I started looking for gigs in the usual places (Internet job postings, etc.) but nothing came out of it. 

Then, a former colleague emailed asking how things were going and I mentioned that work was slow and that if she knew of something to please let me know. A few days later, she came back to me with a great freelance project from her organization which I was happy to take on.  I hadn't even began working on this when a recruiter call me about another job. It turned out my colleague had mentioned my name to someone else in her company and they in turn mentioned my name to this recruiter.

So, don't limit yourself to sending out resumes to every company in the phone book. Network and let your colleagues and friends about your medical writing skills. Even in the midst of a recession, medical writers can still find jobs. 

If you have had similar experiences about the importance of networking, please share them.

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

AMWA Annual Conference Registration

Registration will open at 11 AM Eastern Time on July 20 for the 2009 Annual Conference in Dallas, TX, October 22–24. Check out the registration brochure here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Back Online & Medical Writing Jobs

I was out of town all this past week and didn't have a chance to post to the blog. 

There are only two days left to enroll in the Clinical Trial Reporting course at the introductory price.

Here are some new job postings:

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Course at Medical Writing Training

Today we are releasing the new online course "Clinical Trial Reporting and Regulatory Writing for Medical Writers."

This new course was developed by a regulatory writer with more than 20 years of experience in the field, and it will show you how to develop:
  • Pre Investigational New Drug (IND) Application
  • Investigational New Drug (IND) Application
  • Investigational New Drug (IND) Reports
  • Informed Consent Form
  • Investigator’s Brochure
  • Clinical Reports
  • Pre New Drug Application (Pre-NDA)
  • New Drug Application (NDA)
  • Patient Narratives
  • Manuscripts
This is a great complement to our existing course "Introduction to Regulatory Writing in the United States."

While the Introduction to Regulatory Writing course teaches the drug development and approval process in the US, the Clinical Reporting Course is a practical guide to prepare the regulatory documents involved in clinical research.

The course has been released at an introductory cost of $197, but will go up to $247 on July 6, 2009. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dallas-area medical news writer needed

Medscape has an immediate need for an experienced Dallas-area medical news writer to write news stories at the following meeting.

American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery 26th Annual Meeting (ASMBS), 06/21/09- 06/26/09, Grapevine, TX

We would like to get 5 news articles from the meeting and can pay $300 per article.

Each article should be about 400-800 words. Each article should have interviews with at least two sources, (1) the presenter/lead investigator and (2) an independent commentator who can provide perspective on the study's findings. Preferred independent experts include (a) the session moderator and/or someone from the society board (president, vice president, etc), (b) someone recommended by the presenter as someone who can comment on the study, or (c) a random attendee of the session (last resort). Most important is that the independent commentator not be involved with the study (hence, the independent part).

Deadlines would be 2-3 articles due during the meeting, and the remainder within a few days after the end of the meeting.

Candidates must have experience in writing medical news and interviewing physicians. Style guidelines and sample articles will be provided.

Qualified candidates should send resume and clips via email to Deborah Flapan, director of Medscape Medical News, at No phone calls, please.

SCIENCE Magazine Internship

(SCIENCE News department)

Science, the world's leading journal of original scientific research and global news, seeks a three-month intern to help implement and manage social media projects for its news department. The candidate should be very familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking platforms, and should have experience creating content for these platforms. Other duties will include promoting news content on the internet, moderating comments on our daily news site, and repurposing news content for multimedia projects. Some writing and research assistance for our online news site is possible. The ideal intern will have a science background-or at least a strong interest in science-and some journalism experience. The internship will be at our Washington, D.C. headquarters.
For consideration, send a resume and cover letter to AAAS, Human Resources Department, 1200 New York Ave., NW, Suite #101, Washington, DC  20005.  (Attn:  Requisition #1763) You may also reach us by Fax at 202-682-1630 and e-mail at Visit us at EOE.  Non-smoking work environment.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Next CME Course Begins July 1, 2009

For those of you not familiar with Johanna Lackner-Marx's course, "Become a Continuing Medical Education (CME) Specialist," she developed a series of online courses (basic, intermediate and advanced) designed specifically for medical writers interested in entering the CME industry.

The Advanced level includes one-on-one coaching and a two month Fellowship program for graduates. This Fellowship enables writers to get the experience they need to be competitive in the CME market, produce CME documents for their portfolio, add to their resume, and provides them with an opportunity to make important connections in the CME industry.

The first group of students began in January and now enrollment is open for the next group. The next advanced course will begin on July 1, 2009. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Clinical Trials, CROs and Medical Writing

In the past, I have written about the drug regulatory process in the United States and why it is important that medical writers understand that process.

Medical writers are often responsible for creating the documentation required for a drug's clinical trials. They can work directly for the pharmaceutical company doing the trials or for a Contract Research Organization (CRO) that provides medical writing services. 

An article on the DialedIn blog, describes this service model:
There are two types of service provider models used by emerging pharmaceutical companies to complete Phase I studies: the full service Phase I model and the ala carte model. Some Contract Research Organizations (CROs) provide full Phase I services which consist of the following:

  • Study Site Services (IRB approval, drug packaging, medical monitoring, consenting, enrollment and randomization)
  • Clinical Laboratory Services
  • Drug Concentration Assay Services
  • ECG Services
  • Pharmacokinetic Modeling
  • Biostatistics
  • Clinical Data Management
  • Clinical Study Monitoring
  • Medical Writing
  • Safety Reporting

Some CROs may also provide protocol development services. The advantages of the full service model are continuity of services and a single contract with a single provider.

Some emerging pharmaceutical companies make good use of the ala carte model for research services. In this model, a set of service providers is selected to provide the above Phase I services with each provider covering its niche area of expertise. For example, a particular CRO may be strong in biostatistics and clinical data management and would provide only those services on the trial. While the management of this type of model is more challenging for the sponsor company, it can provide a better end product.

CROs are great places for new regulatory writers because they can be exposed to the many facets of clinical trials (and because CROs may hire more junior medical writers than the pharmaceutical companies). So if you are seeking to break into regulatory writing, consider working for a CRO.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Webinar for Freelance Writers

This is from an advertisement from Writer's Digest, on a topic that may interest some of you.

Money's a tough topic at the best of times – and in a down economy, it's infinitely harder to get your clients to talk frankly about budgets and fees.

But you can learn from freelancers who've been there and found useful ways to get the financial information they need. Join Marketing Mentor Ilise Benun for a discussion with 2 creative solopreneurs about the nitty gritty of talking to clients about money.

How to Talk to Clients About Money (especially in a tricky economy) is presented by Ilise Benun on June 17th at 7:00 pm ET.

Jeff Barlow of Seattle-based Jelvetica, and Julia Reich of New York-based Julia Reich Designs will show you how they handled potentially difficult conversations with both prospects and clients. You'll learn how they:
  • Found out whether a prospect could afford them, before agreeing to do a proposal
  • Got numbers from a prospect who insisted they didn't have a budget
  • Responded to the dreaded "Your fee is too high"
  • Listen in to find out how they did it and what, exactly, they said. They'll share their perspective on the process, from initial request to proposal to start of project (some they got, some they didn't) with both past clients and new clients.

In addition to the one-hour webinar, you'll also receive a download of the complete presentation.

Register here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Writer Position at AAS

Writer II
AAAS (Office of Public Programs)

Successful candidate will take responsibility for all weekly press support
corresponding to Science Translational Medicine. Tasks will include: writing
about Science Translational Medicine research in weekly tipsheet briefs and
press releases; planning and executing media outreach strategies to raise
awareness of the journal and the discoveries it publishes; responding to
queries from journalists; ensuring that the Science embargo is upheld;
communicating with Editorial staff; recruiting artwork from Science
Translational Medicine authors; developing simple multimedia features such
as Skype video interviews and audio files; working with other Science press
package staff to plan press conferences or other events; performing other
work related duties as assigned.

Qualifications: Position requires extensive university or college level
training leading to a Bachelor's degree (Journalism and/or science
preferred); three to five years of relevant writing experience conveying
complex scientific material and concepts for a lay audience; and
demonstrated excellent, accurate science writing skills. Previous experience
in a newsroom or public information office is desired, as are excellent
verbal, written and interpersonal skills and proven organizational skills.
Computer skills, including Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint);
Dreamweaver and Final Cut Express, are also preferred.

For consideration, send a resume and a cover letter along with salary
requirements to AAAS, Human Resources Department, Job Requisition #1755;
1200 New York Ave., NW, Suite #102, Washington, DC 20005. You may also
reach us by Fax at 202-682-1630 and e-mail at Resumes
submitted without job requisition number and salary requirements will not be
considered. Visit us at EOE. Non-smoking work environment.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Biomedical Writing Teaching Position

We are seeking highly qualified applicants for a 12-month, fully budgeted, non-tenure-track faculty position in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. This position is to teach Biomedical Science (BIMS) 481 (Seminar in Writing).

Requirements: The successful candidate will hold a master’s degree in science journalism, biological sciences, education, or a related field. Candidates should have professional experience plus academic instruction experience and the ability to multi-task and work cooperatively with others.

Duties: The position will comprise approximately 40% preparing and administering PowerPoint lectures, 57% grading writing assignments, 2% interacting individually with students and 1% other duties as assigned.

Texas A&M University is located in College Station, Texas, USA. City facilities, cultural and athletic events, and other features of living in the community may be found by following the links here .

A city profile for College Station, Texas, may be found here .

Application process: Individuals interested in applying should send a letter of interest outlining their qualifications, a current curriculum vita, contact details, and the names and contacts for three professional references. Applications may be submitted either electronically (by e-mail and attachments) or by post. All materials should be sent to:

Ms. Dana J. Parks
Administrative Assistant to the Department Head
Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas, USA 77843-4458
(Voice) +1-979-845-3268
(Facsimile) +1-979-847-8981

Monday, June 1, 2009

Off-Label Promotion of Prescription Drugs - Should Medical Writers Be Concerned?

By Cyndy Kryder  (Guest blogger)

In the prescription-drug industry, off-label use of prescription drugs is not that unusual. Health care providers are permitted to use a drug or device off label, that is, in an unapproved manner. Pharmaceutical companies, however, are not allowed to market or promote their products for any uses other than those approved by the US FDA.

In January, 2009, Eli Lilly and Company agreed to pay $1.415 billion to resolve allegations that it promoted its antipsychotic product, Zyprexa, for off-label conditions. This huge fine includes a criminal fine of $515 million and an additional $800 million in a civil settlement with the federal government and the states. Among health care cases, this is the largest fine on record, and the largest criminal fine for an individual corporation ever imposed in a criminal prosecution in the United States.

If you're a medical writer who writes content for pharmaceutical sales and marketing materials, should you be concerned? In my opinion, medical writers need to be aware of the regulations surrounding off-label use, and help clients by avoiding writing about off-label uses when that content will appear in promotional materials, since that is illegal. About the only places where writing about off-label uses may be acceptable is in continuing medical education (CME) programs, textbooks, and clinical study reports (CSRs).

When medical writers are hired by our clients, we are expected to create content that is accurate and well referenced. That means that writers need to be acutely aware of a product's approved uses. If you include information about off-label use in something you are writing, you need to state that this is an unapproved use. Once the content we create is out of our hands, however, we have no control over how that content is ultimately used. It is incumbent on the company marketing and promoting the product to ensure that all materials comply with government regulations.

Still, it's impossible to know what kinds of repercussions might follow a medical writer who creates content for materials that are later used illegally to promote prescription drugs. The ongoing investigation into the influence the pharmaceutical industry has on physicians has already resulted in the public naming of a reputable medical communications firm and the medical writers it hired. A year ago, most medical writers would have thought this impossible, but today I'm not so sure. The best strategy in the current environment is to write accurately, cite your sources, and keep copies of the final drafts as they left your computer, just in case.

You can read the Department of Justice press release about the case and its resolution here.

Cyndy Kryder, co-Author of The Accidental Medical Writer. The Accidental Medical Writer is for everyone who is frustrated with working for someone else. For everyone who wants the freedom and security that freelance medical writing can help them achieve. Visit our website at the link above for information, inspiration, strategies, lessons, and tips to help you become a successful freelance medical writer, too. Article source here.

Three Medical Writing Jobs

Monday, May 25, 2009

Clinical Trials Reports

I thought I was going to have this ready by now, but with my move out of Texas and all the work with a book we are working on, the Clinical Trials Reports course had to wait. 

We seem to be back on track with this and, if all goes well, we'll be releasing this course at next month. Just to give you a preview, these are some of the topics included in the online course:
  • Pre-submission Quality Control
  • Pre-IND, Pre-IDE
  • IND, IDE
  • Investigator Brochure
  • NDA, PMA
  • Panel Pack
  • Post-approval Reports
  • Recurring Regulatory Reports
  • Manuscripts & Abstracts
If you are not familiar with regulatory writing, you may want to look first at Introduction to Regulatory Writing in the US. The upcoming course is a great follow-up to that one, and it will show you how to write all these important reports. 

Sign up for email updates to this blog (see right-hand column) to be notified when the course is released.

Two Medical Writing Positions Available in the UK

Friday, May 22, 2009

More to Medical Writing Than Meets the Eye

By Cyndy Kryder (Guest blogger)

Think you only need to understand science to become a medical writer? Think again. Despite the term medical in the phrase medical writing, when you work in this field you won't be writing exclusively for medical professionals.

Depending on your niche and expertise, in addition to doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, you might be writing for a lay audience (that's the common person), hospital purchasers, manufacturers and users of medical devices, pharmaceutical sales representatives, people in the insurance industry, or individuals who create and enforce public policy. That's a very broad range, and each of those groups will bring with them a different set of terms. To do your job well, you'll need to have a basic understanding of the language that's unique to each segment. Why? Because the more you know, the more marketable you'll be. And in today's economy, that's important.

So not only will you need to understand medical terminology, you'll also need a working knowledge of terms related to:

  • Health care
  • Insurance
  • Business and marketing
  • Education

You see, medical writing is not really one distinct genre, but one with a very broad scope and multiple components. In my opinion, medical writing falls into 3 categories: regulatory, promotional, and educational.

Regulatory writing, a very scientific type of writing, involves translating complex information from clinical trials into technical reports, some of which will be submitted to the federal government. Included here are study protocols, Investigator's Brochures (which are distributed to the scientists who head up clinical trials), patient narratives, and, in some instances, manuscripts detailing the outcomes of clinical trials that will be submitted to medical journals.

Promotional medical writing includes any materials created to promote, or sell, a prescription drug, intervention, or medical device. These could be any of the multitudes of sales-training materials (in print and other media) that are used to teach sales representatives about how a new drug or device works and to train them to sell it to prescribers. Target audiences for promotional materials are broad, and include the folks who sell the product, those who prescribe it, those who have influence on people who might prescribe it, and those who ultimately will cover the cost, either all or just a portion (third-party payers).

Into the educational category I lump anything a writer creates for continuing medical education (CME) programs, including writing needs assessments, as well as the content for the actual CME programs. I also consider patient education materials to be educational writing, since one of their purposes is to educate the consumer and family. I recognize that the ultimate goal of these materials may well be promotional, that is, to educate consumers to the point where they will ask their doctors to prescribe the product for them; however, I consider them educational, since they differ in style and tone from promotional pieces.

So you can see the target audiences for whom you could be writing can be quite diverse. And that's why you need to be knowledgeable about more than just medical terms.

Before you panic, throw your hands up in despair, and decide that medical writing is not for you, take a deep breath and calm down. You can do this. How do I know? Because I did.

Even though I had a bit of a science background when I entered the field, I still surrounded myself with great resources, like the ones that follow. If you're serious about becoming a medical writer, add some of these resources to your medical writing toolbox. You'll find them indispensible.

AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors. This guide for authors and editors belongs on every medical writer's bookshelf.

Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 31st edition. A must-have resource, this dictionary provides definitions for almost any medical term you'll come across.

Managed Care Digest Series®; Developed by the pharmaceutical giant, sanofi-aventis, this annual series of free hard-copy or electronic digests includes the Hospitals/Systems Digest, the Senior Care Digest, the eManaged Care Trends Digest, the Government Digest, and the HMO-PPO Digest. The individual digests contain information about all the major components of health care delivery and provide updated information and statistics incorporating data from Verispan.

mediLexicon; A searchable, online medical dictionary, mediLexicon provides definitions for terms, phrases, acronyms, and abbreviations. Powered by Stedman's Medical Dictionary and geared toward professionals, this site defines more than 100,000 medical terms.
Cyndy Kryder is an experienced freelance medical writer with more than 16 years of experience. As one-half of the Accidental Medical Writer writing team, Cyndy writes books for aspiring and experienced medical writers. You can find more medical writing tips at her website. Article source here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Texas, is seeking a senior scientific medical editor/writer for the section of Scientific Publications. The editor/writer in this position will be responsible for editing and writing all types of scientific publications and for managing publications projects. Applicants must have excellent written, editorial, and project management skills. Candidates should have at least a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, or science (with proficiency in English); a graduate degree is preferred. Applicants should also have 5 years' experience or commensurate academic or research experience. Advanced degree qualifies for experience. Completion of AMWA's certificate programs and BELS certification preferred. Candidates will be required to complete a short grammar and writing test and to provide writing samples.

Qualified applicants should send a résumé to Marianne Mallia, ELS, Texas Heart Institute, PO Box 20345, Houston, TX 77225-0345; FAX: 832.355.3714; e-mail: .

Monday, May 11, 2009

AMA Manual of Style Online

AMWA members get a discount on the AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors by subscribing through

Medical News Writer Position

Medscape Medical News has an immediate need for a medical news writer to cover the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists 18th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress (AACE), 5/13 - 5/17, in Houston.

The oral abstract and poster sessions start on Thursday, May 14. We would like to get 5 articles from the meeting and can pay $300 per article.

Each article should be about 400-800 words. Each article should have interviews with at least two sources, (1) the presenter/lead investigator and (2) an independent commentator who can provide perspective on the study's findings. Preferred independent experts include (a) the session moderator and/or someone from the society board (president, vice president, etc), (b) someone recommended by the presenter as someone who can comment on the study, or (c) a random attendee of the session (last resort). Most important is that the independent commentator not be involved with the study (hence, the independent part).

The writer would need to register him- or herself as press directly with the society. A letter of assignment can be provided by Medscape if needed.

Once coverage is arranged, I can send style guidelines and sample articles. Please send resume and clips at first contact to .

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Social Media and Medical Writing

I thought that because I have a few blogs and a fairly active Facebook account, I had a pretty good grasp of social media. But I've discovered there is a lot to learn from some recent readings. 

Anyway, we have been exploring how to reach other audiences through social media, especially when you take into account that in February 2009, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time (click here for the Nielsen report, The Global Online Media Landscape). For instance, our approach on the NNii web site has been the traditional text article with scientific references. But should we be adding videos, tag clouds, Twitter and Facebook pages? Should we hire a teenager to do all this?

One great example of integrating social media into health communications is the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, They offer podcasts, mobile alerts, videos, widgets,  facebook group, and more.

If you want to learn more about using social media, there are a lot of books, blogs and twitter feeds out there. I'm reading an ebook called The Zen of Social Media Marketing, which seems pretty good so far.

Thanks for reading!

Freelance & Full-Time Medical Writing Jobs

Monday, May 4, 2009

Medical Writer Position in Houston

Experienced professional writers with bioscience background needed at the John M. Eisenberg Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Work as part of a dynamic team of professionals translating medical research reviews into information products for clinicians. MA or MS required, PhD preferred. Must be an excellent writer with bioscience knowledge and comfortable with medical research reports and methods. Send cover letter, resume, writing samples and three references to Tom Workman at Baylor College of Medicine is an equal opportunity employer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Influenza and Risk Communication

Real panic calls from family members: What do you think of the swine flu cases? Is this the end of the world? My response: Not the end of the world yet and no need for such an alarm. Let's just wait and see. 

The new swine flu outbreak has not only brought more work to my table (we are preparing an article about it for the NNii Web site), but has me interested in the way these cases are reported. A few years ago, with the bird flu scare, many mistakes were made in terms of risk communication, which created panic in some, and apathy in others. The response to this new issue, of course, is varied. Not all the media react alike. But a recent article in the NYT, summarizes well our task as medical writers, informing without alarming:

The W.H.O. and public-health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find themselves in a delicate balance, obliged to provide information about potentially lethal diseases without causing panic.

Although health officials have held exercises to prepare for pandemics and outbreaks caused by bioterrorism, they have yet to master the necessary communications skills. They are in a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation.

Check out my AMWA presentation on risk communication for some principles that you may apply if confronted with this situation. Also, read What to Say When a Pandemic Looks Imminent by risk communication experts Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard.

If you want to keep up with the swine flu outbreak, don't go to our local newspaper. Instead, look at a good source such as this one.