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How to become a medical writer

Medical writing is a lucrative career option for anyone with abundant understanding and passion for medical concepts. Kolabtree, a freelance platform for scientists, has reported that there has been a spike of 50% in demand for freelance medical writers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is not expected to take a dip in the upcoming years.

You need not be a scientist or a doctor to be a medical writer, nor is there any strict educational qualification or expertise prescribed to get started; but most medical writers have a strong science background and years of writing and research under their belt.


Medical writing is a lucrative career option for anyone with abundant understanding and passion for medical concepts. Kolabtree, a freelance platform for scientists, has reported that there has been a spike of 50% in demand for freelance medical writers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is not expected to take a dip in the upcoming years.

Organizations and businesses are scrambling to engage more freelancers for their growing medical writing demands; however, they are looking for professionals. Especially in the medical field, nobody wants to hire a semi-expert, let alone an amateur. If you are serious about becoming a writer, you need to be well-read on the topic, gain experience and keep up with all the latest developments.

MEDICAL WRITING – WHAT IS IT?

Medical writing encompasses several verticals; including preparing documents for research and development, regulatory approval and continuance of drugs in the market, journal and congress publications, theses that communicate new or improved medical ideas to healthcare professionals in the field, medical literature aimed at educational and promotional use, and so much more.

While medical blog writing is less formal and requires adherence to no particular format or guidelines, regulatory medical writing or writing for scholarly publication requires strict adherence to formats and is expected to meet a certain standard. Each publisher stipulates a different set of rules and standards, but they are available online in their respective websites for free.

A good writer with good research skills could work on blog articles, but assisting scholars with completing their case study or report requires a deeper understanding of the subject-matter. Good medical writing for any purpose, demands clear, accurate and logical flow of text with no room for ambiguity or poor presentation.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE VERTICAL?

If you are already writing articles for blogs or magazines, you could write content on healthcare and about common health concerns for bloggers and even work on scripts for YouTube channels. Writing for disseminating medical information to common folk might not really be considered medical writing, but it is a great place to start if you wish to test the waters. However, it cannot be the decisive factor for whether medical writing is really your calling, as the amount of time spent and intensity of work and research for medical writing are infinitely greater and can quickly turn tedious, if you do not have the appetite for it.

If you are an academician with understanding of pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, prophylactics, etc., writing for research groups or case studies may be more up your alley. You may also find writing for regulatory bodies rewarding, but for that, you need to be familiar with regulatory requirements, templates and guidelines.

If you are a doctor or a scientist who is passionate about advancing the impact of medical science, then you could partner with others in the field to work on their clinical experiments or work with pharmaceutical companies. This usually requires high academic accomplishments and a lot of hands-on experience.

If you are already working in the medical or healthcare domain and believe you can relay extensive and unstructured information provided to you with great attention to the underlying science, there is no doubt that you will find plenty of freelance opportunities.

RESOURCES

Now that we have established that there is plenty of work to go around, let us not forget that freelancing is competitive; be prepared to be on the top of your game every single time. Nobody is going to teach you how to write or even help you understand the topic better. It is all up to you – the freelancer, to learn and to improve your work.

There is no formal certification or mentorship program that is offered to medical aficionados. Just like with regular writing jobs, your two great friends to become a medical writer are reading and writing. Most journal publications are available online and some professional bodies offer workshops in specific topics. You just need to stay motivated and engage in a bit of self-study.

The best way to learn is, of course, on the job, and some organizations, especially pharmaceutical institutions and medical communication companies and research groups, can offer insight into drug development processes, medical statistics, drug safety guidelines, regulatory requirements and even some templates that they usually follow. This opportunity is usually offered to individuals that are retained in-house and freelancers rarely get to see the work that goes on within, but do not worry, you will be provided with everything you require to finish your task even as a freelancer.

STARTING OUT

Before you actively start looking for freelance medical writing opportunities, apply for an internship with a medical publisher, medical communications company, research organization or in any allied industry. Perfect your grammar and editing skills. Most often, what you write as a medical writer will not go through an editor and sometimes, you will even be asked to finish a document that someone else had started, so it is crucial that you are able to edit.

Make use of your spare time to write a blog or some articles on topics of your preference. Prepare a portfolio of your samples and attend workshops on writing, pharmacology and medical/biological science. They will help you overcome the initial challenges of getting freelance opportunities by proving your capacity and commitment to your potential employer.

If you have any research articles already published with your bylines in reputed peer-reviewed journals, it can greatly increase your chances of success in the freelance medical writing market. Remember to actively write for top journals and newspapers throughout your career. Freelancers often get so engrossed once they start working for others that they have no time to write on their own research and interests.

NETWORKING

Remember that you don’t require any particular academic achievement, but those with a BSc, MSc or PhD will find it easier to scale up the ladder, especially if they also have writing or editorial experience, as they already have the necessary knowledge and connections in the field.

If you do not have a degree in medicine, pharmacology, biotechnology, or any related field, it does not mean you cannot find work. You are just going to have to try a bit harder. Become a member of medical associations and groups; take part in conferences and lectures and socialize in such gatherings, so that more and more people from the medical community are aware of you and what you have to offer.

You might be the best writer on the planet, but if nobody knows you, you will never get the job that could catapult your career. Just like any business, freelancing in medical writing requires you to network and actively search for vacancies and requirements.

STABILITY

Pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, publication houses and even research institutions are constantly looking out for medical writers to collaborate with them. According to the survey conducted by CenterWatch on pharmaceutical services, medical writing is the fourth most frequently outsourced clinical function, and its market size has doubled between 2004 and 2008 and according to another survey, the market is expected to grow annually at 10.9% from 2020.

Freelance medical writing can keep you more engaged than a full-time job. You can also earn more as you will be working on multiple contracts at any given time, which means that you have better income security than a traditional job, and that your professional trajectory is not tied to any one company or individual.

If you are ready to get started on your freelance journey, then here is what you need to do.

SIGN UP!

Online freelance marketplaces open doors to an unbelievable number of opportunities across the globe. You interact with companies and researchers who require assistance with formalizing their studies and help them prepare for publication, regulatory approval, etc. It is important that you sign up on a platform that is more specialized, more dedicated to medical purposes, such as MedTals.

We have the best talent in medical writing on demand and we ensure that your profile is not buried under general or irrelevant profiles. Employers are aware that we verify individual profiles and only admit expert medical writers. So, they are willing to pay what you deserve and there is no need to haggle or compromise on flexibility. You can truly leave your mark in the industry through us by pursuing your dream and it all begins with you joining the MedTals family by clicking here.

While signing up, fill in all the details, including your qualification and work experience; upload your samples in the portfolio section and set the profile photo. A 100% complete profile is easier to verify and has better chances of making a good impression on the employer. We will verify your profile in a couple of days, and you can start applying for jobs.


  1. https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/contractors/consulting/kolabtree/pressreleases/spike-freelance-medical-writers/

  2. Korieth K. Demand for medical writing continues to rise. Cent Watch Mon. 2008;15:1, 8–13

  3. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/medical-writing-market




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