Career Development

What Does a Medical Writer Do?

Find out what a medical writer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a medical writer.

Medical writers are responsible for creating content that explains how medical devices, procedures, and treatments work. They may also be tasked with creating materials that explain the risks and benefits of these products to patients and their families.

Medical writers often work closely with doctors, nurses, technicians, and other healthcare professionals to gather information about new developments in the field. This information is then used to create detailed reports, articles, pamphlets, videos, etc.

Medical Writer Job Duties

A medical writer typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Communicating with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, patients, other medical professionals, and members of the media about new drugs or treatments
  • Conducting research on diseases, treatments, or other topics relevant to specific projects
  • Conducting interviews with physicians and other medical professionals to gather information about new developments in their fields
  • Reviewing scientific literature and industry reports to identify trends in research or best practices in treatment methods
  • Writing reports that include details about a disease or treatment method, including possible side effects or risks of a treatment
  • Conducting phone interviews with medical experts on topics such as new drug discoveries or treatment methods
  • Preparing drafts of scientific papers based on research findings, which are then submitted to peer reviewers for revisions and publication
  • Preparing drafts of clinical research protocols and study design plans for approval by institutional review boards (IRBs) before commencing research studies
  • Researching and reviewing data about different medical conditions or treatments for pharmaceutical companies or other clients

Medical Writer Salary & Outlook

Medical writers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company they work for.

  • Median Annual Salary: $105,000 ($50.48/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $215,000 ($103.37/hour)

The employment of medical writers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for medical writing services will increase as healthcare providers continue to hire medical writers to write and edit clinical documents, such as informed consents and procedure descriptions, in addition to research papers. As more people receive treatment from hospitals and other healthcare providers, demand for medical writing services will increase.

Medical Writer Job Requirements

A medical writer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Medical writers typically need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Some employers prefer a master’s degree. Relevant coursework includes biology, English, journalism, medical terminology, research and statistics.

Many employers prefer candidates who have a medical background, such as a degree in nursing or a related field.

Training & Experience: Medical writers often receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training may include learning the specific style guide and preferred methods of the organization. It may also include instruction on the software and computer programs the company uses.

Medical writers can also receive training through internships. An internship is a great way to gain experience in the medical writing field. During an internship, you can learn more about the various aspects of the job, including the following:

Writing and editing Researching and compiling data Working with various software Working with various databases Working with various media

Internships are often unpaid, although some organizations may offer a stipend. They typically last between three and six months.

Certifications & Licenses: Medical writers do not require any certifications to work in their capacity. However, some states have laws that require medical writers to be licensed to work in the medical field. These licenses allow medical writers to provide medical services in a clinical setting.

Medical Writer Skills

Medical writers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Medical terminology: Medical writers should have a strong understanding of medical terminology. This can help them communicate with medical professionals and ensure they use the correct terminology when writing about medical topics. Medical terminology can also help them understand medical research and the medical field in general.

Communication skills: Medical writers often communicate with patients, other medical professionals and medical researchers. They use their communication skills to explain medical processes and procedures, answer questions and provide feedback. Medical writers also use their communication skills to write articles and reports that are easy to understand.

Research skills: Medical writers need research skills to find information about medical topics. They use research skills to find the most accurate information about a medical condition or treatment. They also use research skills to find information about the latest medical research and technology.

Attention to detail: Medical writers need to have excellent attention to detail to ensure they provide accurate information to their clients. This can include ensuring the information they include in their reports is accurate and up to date. It can also mean ensuring they have all the information they need to complete their assignment.

Critical thinking: Medical writers use critical thinking skills to analyze research and data to create informative and accurate content. They also use critical thinking to evaluate the quality of the research and data they review to ensure it’s reliable and accurate. Medical writers use critical thinking to determine the best way to present medical information to patients and other medical professionals.

Medical Writer Work Environment

Medical writers work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and medical communications firms. They may work on-site at the client’s location or in their own office. Many medical writers work from home, which offers them a great deal of flexibility in terms of hours and working conditions. Medical writers typically work regular business hours, although they may occasionally work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful at times, particularly when deadlines are tight, but most medical writers find the work to be both challenging and rewarding.

Medical Writer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how medical writers work. Medical writers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Medical Tourism

Medical tourism is becoming increasingly popular as people look for affordable options for medical care. This trend is creating opportunities for medical writers who can help patients and their families prepare for their trip.

As medical tourism grows, medical writers will need to be familiar with the different procedures and treatments that are available in different countries. They will also need to be able to write in a way that is easy to understand for non-medical professionals.

The Importance of Patient Education

Patient education is an important part of any medical procedure, but it has become even more critical in recent years as patients have become more involved in their own care.

Medical writers can play a key role in patient education by writing materials that explain procedures, risks, and benefits. They can also work with other members of the healthcare team to create videos, brochures, and other educational materials.

More Attention on Preventative Care

Preventative care is becoming increasingly important in the medical field, as doctors and patients alike realize the value of early detection and treatment.

This trend is having a significant impact on the medical writing industry, as demand for writers who can produce content about preventative care increases. Writers who are able to produce high-quality content about this topic will be in high demand, as they will be able to help doctors and patients make informed decisions about their health.

How to Become a Medical Writer

A medical writer career can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider your interests and skills when planning your path, as there are many different ways to contribute to the field of medicine writing.

If you have a strong science background, you may want to focus on writing for healthcare professionals. This could include creating patient education materials or writing articles for medical journals. If you have excellent writing skills, you could also pursue a freelance writing career in any number of fields, including health, science, technology, or travel.

No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends in medicine writing. You can do this by reading professional publications, attending workshops and conferences, and networking with other writers.

Advancement Prospects

Medical writers can advance their careers by taking on more responsibility, such as managing projects or teams of writers. They can also move into management positions or take on roles with more strategic responsibilities, such as business development.

With more experience, medical writers can move into senior positions, such as principal medical writer or director of medical writing. Those who have advanced degrees, such as a PhD, MD, or PharmD, may be able to move into positions that require these credentials, such as clinical research associate or medical director.

Those who are interested in management or business development may want to consider pursuing an MBA. Those who want to move into a more scientific role may want to consider pursuing a PhD or MD.

Medical Writer Job Description Example

As a medical writer at [CompanyX], you will be responsible for writing and editing a variety of scientific and medical content, including but not limited to: patient education materials, clinical trial protocols and reports, scientific abstracts and posters, and journal articles. You will work closely with a team of physicians, scientists, and other medical professionals to ensure accuracy and clarity of all content. The ideal candidate will have a strong background in the sciences, excellent writing and editing skills, and the ability to understand and communicate complex scientific information.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Write, edit, and review a variety of scientific and medical documents, including but not limited to clinical study protocols and reports, patient information leaflets, journal articles, and abstracts
  • Work with clients, authors, and editorial staff to ensure that all documents meet the required standards for content, format, and style
  • Adhere to strict deadlines while ensuring a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • Conduct literature searches and perform data analysis as needed to support the development of document content
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of relevant therapeutic areas and scientific developments
  • Use reference management software to organize and maintain references for documents
  • Attend scientific meetings and conferences as needed to stay abreast of latest developments
  • Assist with the development and implementation of departmental policies and procedures
  • Train new staff members on company writing guidelines and processes
  • Manage multiple projects simultaneously and prioritize workload effectively
  • Provide feedback and mentorship to junior writers
  • Serve as a liaison between the medical writing department and other departments within the company

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or related field
  • 3-5 years of professional writing experience, preferably within the medical or scientific industries
  • Exceptional research, organizational, and time-management skills
  • Attention to detail and accuracy
  • Ability to work independently and with a team to meet deadlines
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in English, journalism, or related field
  • Experience with Adobe Creative Suite
  • Familiarity with medical terminology and experience working with medical professionals
  • Working knowledge of content management systems and HTML


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