The field of medicine is constantly changing, either through clinical trials, researches or new ideas and thoughts. This needs to be correctly communicated with members of the medical field such as physicians, paramedic staff, healthcare consumers and drug regulators. This is where medical writers come into the picture. Writers with a good knowledge of science can write these scientific documents. Medical writers are not actual scientists and sometimes might not even be doctors, but are the people concerned with collecting and collating all scientific data and presenting it to the medical fraternity in a timely manner. Thus, the need for good medical writing cannot be neglected as medicine depends on correct reporting. All the meticulous research and data is useless if not presented in a digestible yet accurate manner such it can be applied to everyday practice.
Medical writers need to know the basics of medicine and science, and should be adept at collecting and recording data and research so it is easily comprehensible for the target audience. They need to wield their knowledge of science and present relatively complex data in an easy to understand manner without ignoring key points. Data has to be complete and scientifically sound. If anyone wants to start a career in medical writing, they should have a love for writing, without which the work won’t be fun and feel like drudgery.
Over the past five years, the requirement for medical writers has greatly increased and the medical writing industry has doubled. With increasing demand from the pharmaceutical companies for medical writers, a career option of medical writing seems very lucrative.
As most of the work from the pharmaceutical companies is being outsourced to countries in Asia, Indian science graduates have good career prospects in medical writing and can take this profession up as a full time job.
WHO CAN TAKE UP MEDICAL WRITING AS A CAREER OPTION?
Any life science graduate, who has a flair for writing and a good command over English language can opt for medical writing. A post graduation or doctorate will have added weight. Apart from this, basic computer skills are useful. The patience to deal with stress and deadlines are essential too. Work experience in clinical laboratories and pharmaceutical companies will be an advantage. Though industry experience is not mandatory for starting a career in medical writing, it would help give an edge regarding payscales.
Courses in content writing, medical coding and clinical research can be useful. However great your education is, you cannot become a good writer if you can’t write well. It is important to know that medical writing does not necessarily have to be creative writing, you can stick to the regulatory code of format, where content and structure is preset for scientific documents.
The remuneration or pay scale can be an average RS 367,336 per year. It is important to know that this is an approximate and will vary from company to company and depend upon experience and caliber of the candidate. The initial pay scale may not be that impressive, but with increased work experience, the monetary benefits are good.
TYPES OF MEDICAL WRITING
There are two types of medical writing
- Regulatory medical writing – this entails creation of documents for regulatory agencies which require approvals for drugs or devices. This is a formulaic type of writing. There is strict formatting to be followed for the documents. It includes clinical trial studies, guidelines and protocols.
- Educational medical writing – this involves writing scientific documents educating about drugs and devices for either healthcare personnel or laymen. This could include medical articles for journals, write ups for CME or CE and even sales literature.
Other types of medical writing are medical journalism, medical marketing, presentations and publications. Each of these documents is for a set target audience. Hence, the language used has to be very precise, clear and correct. The grade of technical information has to be tailored for the target audience. Each document has a set style of writing. Thus depending upon the individual’s aptitude and liking, one can chose the type of medical writing one would comfortable in.
WHERE ARE MEDICAL WRITERS REQUIRED?
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Healthcare communication companies
- Health and medical websites
- Medical journals
- Medical marketing and sales literature
There are no certified courses for medical writing, but one can learn the basics by starting as an amateur medical writer and pick up the tricks of the trade. Having a mentor in this field can help you get a better grasp of the field. Before starting a particular project, it is critical to understand the basics of why the document is being written and who the intended audience is. Secondly, a thorough research of the data, review and then compilation of the information in a particular format and style are due. Editing for grammar, syntax, vocabulary and spelling mistakes is extremely important as well.
Medical writing is a growing career option with immense potential, where one can either work as a freelancer or an employee in an organisation. The art and science of medical writing requires a thorough knowledge of medical science and a love for writing. Over the years the demand for medical writing is steadily increasing. Medical writing can prove to be the start of a lifelong and fulfilling career for many.
Contributed Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD
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2.Swanberg, Harold (May 2001). “AMWA History, 1924–1948”. American Medical Writers Association. Retrieved 2009-10-20.