Medical Writer Job Description
Medical writers use scientific knowledge and writing skills to effectively and clearly communicate technical medical science information in writing. Medical Writers generally focus on either scientific medical writing, which includes medical studies, drug trials and regulatory documents, or marketing medical writing, which includes news releases and advertising copy for a wider audience. The primary employers of medical writers are hospitals, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies.
The technical skills of Medical Writers put them in high demand with many job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10 percent increase in jobs for all technical writers, including Medical Writers, by 2024.
Medical Writer Duties and Responsibilities
To accomplish their primary goal of communicating complex medical information in clear and compliant writing, Medical Writers perform many tasks. We analyzed several job listings to identify these core Medical Writer duties and responsibilities.
Research and Understand Requirements
Medical Writers work with clinical teams and clients to understand the nature of the scientific work that they will be covering. They assess data or products using their medical expertise, and quickly develop expertise in new areas as needed for their writing. They conduct comprehensive literature searches to enhance their background understanding, and evaluate and analyze the information they will be writing about.
Write, Review and Edit Scientific Medical Writing
Medical Writers compile, write, and edit medical writing deliverables covering all phases of clinical research for submission to regulatory agencies. Medical Writers help write studies for submissions to the FDA. Their writing is also used in publications or medical journals, or for internal company use. Some of the things they write include comprehensive clinical study reports, study protocols, annual reports, investigator brochures, risk/benefit analysis and integrated summaries from raw data.
Write, Review and Edit Marketing Medical Writing
Medical Writers also write scientific copy for a broader audience, including scientific liaisons, healthcare professionals, and pharmaceutical representatives. They prepare abstracts, scientific exhibits, posters and verbal presentations. They also develop and write pharmaceutical training materials, eLearning content, video scripts, magazine articles, and presentations to be used by a variety of audiences.
Meet Standards and Requirements
A key task of the Medical Writer is to be sure that all deliverables are in accordance with regulations, standards, and guidelines. The regulatory documents that the Medical Writer prepares must meet ICH, GLPs, and GCPs guidelines, a writing style guide, and often a company or client template. The Medical Writer must understand the levels of evidence required to achieve regulatory, marketing and regulatory goals.
Stay Current with Medical Literature and Advancements
In order to be effective in their job, a Medical Writer must be aware of current industry practices and regulatory requirements that affect medical writing. They must keep abreast of current literature, emerging science, technological developments and medical trends. They write summaries and maintain files on informative medical and scientific journal articles.
Medical Writer Skills
A strong communicator with meticulous attention to detail, a successful Medical Writer has solid writing and organizational skills. They are curious and motivated, and work well independently or as part of a team in high-pressure situations. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Medical Writer candidates with the following skills.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Medical Writers with these core skills. If you want to work as a Medical Writer, focus on the following.
- Extensive knowledge of English grammar with a familiarity with a standard style guide
- Ability to communicate scientific or medical information in a clear and concise manner
- Proficiency in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email, and the Internet
- Familiarity with the principles of clinical research
- Ability to interpret and present clinical data and other complex information
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Medical Writer toolbox and broaden your career options.
- Experience in a Medical specialty (i.e. oncology or medical devices)
- Thorough understanding of FDA and ICH regulations and guidelines
- Available writing samples
Medical Writer Resources
We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Medical Writer. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.
On the Web
The Accidental Medical Writer – Provides all kinds of advice and resources for anyone looking at getting into the career of a freelance Medical Writer.
Health Writer Hub – Offers free courses on health writing, and an insightful blog.
Biotech Ink Spots – A helpful blog from an experienced Medical Writer.
Medical Writing and Medical Communication Network – Follow discussions on the day-to-day work and latest breakthroughs in Medical Writing.
Medical & Scientific Writing – This group offers tips and advice to new Medical Writers from seasoned professionals.
National Association of Science Writers – Offers news, FAQs, and a Job Bank to help you break into the field of science writing, to include Medical Writing.
American Medical Writers Association – Keep up to date on developments, and find a slew of new writer resources.
Medical Writer Books
Medical Writing: A Brief Guide for Beginners – A basic introduction to the requirements of Medical Writing.
Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers. Second Edition – An in-depth guide to the ins and outs of writing a successful medical research paper.
A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition – An essential manual to ensure that all medical writing matches the established format and requirements.
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