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There are two main areas of medical writing: marketing and clinical. This article focuses on marketing medical writing and is intended as background information for people considering a career in medi...

There are two main areas of medical writing: marketing and clinical. This article focuses on marketing medical writing and is intended as background information for people considering a career in medical writing, who are interested in knowing a little bit more about what could be in store for them. 
Marketing Medical Writing jobs may be in-house roles (working for a pharmaceutical / biotechnology or medical device company) or more often than not, within medical communications agencies carrying out work on behalf pharmaceutical companies or institutions.
Medical Communications or Medical Education Agencies provide bespoke communications services to pharmaceutical companies, the aim of which is to enhance clinical knowledge so that the best healthcare outcomes are achieved for the patient. The agencies address this challenge on a number of fronts, working with many interested parties.
The purpose of the Medical Writer is to produce many different types of marketing materials for use in marketing, promotion, training and medical education. Just a few examples of the types of materials produced might include, manuscripts for journal publication, feature articles for magazines, conference reports,  posters and abstracts; training aids, including slide-kits and lecture notes and educational materials such as patient leaflets or web copy. There is much more besides, but this provides an idea of the variety and diversity of the work undertaken. These materials are developed for many different user groups and audiences, ranging from healthcare professionals to patient groups, from medical reps to lay audiences. The materials are produced over a range of media including print, internet / intranet, CD/DVD and film.
Part of the art of the medical writer includes being able to write for audiences with varying levels of scientific understanding, but still being able to communicate the intended message whilst writing in a particular ‘house’ style (most companies will have SOPs to ensure a uniformity/continuity of message) . You will also have an eye for detail, as you will be expected to review and edit both your own and colleagues’ work to ensure the high level of editorial integrity required for the client and company.
Medical Writers, whether providing materials for a pharmaceutical company’s portfolio or on behalf of a range of clients in a medical communications agency, will undoubtedly have to write about a range of therapy or disease areas. This is why it is important for medical writers to make sure they keep abreast of industry developments, regulatory guidelines and medical innovations. You are not expected to have an expert knowledge of every therapy area, as you will learn more about specific therapy areas when you work on a particular account.
In an agency environment you will interact with both internal and external teams. As part of an inter–disciplinary team you will work with account handlers, business development and production staff and you may also have a remit to liaise with clients and freelancers. It will be useful to have well developed inter-personal skills as often there is a balance to be struck between competing stake holders in a project.
As a medical writer you can enjoy a fairly structured career path. The classical route runs from medical writer to editorial director via senior medical writer and editorial manager / team leader. As your career progresses emphasis shifts away from hands on writing, as you take on more managerial and mentoring responsibilities and become more involved in account strategy. Again this is only one example and there are many more opportunities and avenues available to pursue.
There are no hard and fast rules on the qualifications required to becoming a medical writer, although companies generally look for candidates with a Life Sciences degree and increasingly a higher degree (Masters or Doctorate). You will already have been developing your writing skills, have an analytical thought process and a knack for grasping the salient facts buried in data or text. It is fairly standard for a company to request that candidates complete a writing test during the interview process to assess the candidate’s level of writing ability; these tests come in all shapes and sizes and will test and reflect the skills and abilities that the company deem most important.
ID Search & Selection is a recruitment agency specialised in placing medical communications professionals in medical writer jobs. If you would like to learn more about medical writing or would like to discuss your career options in more detail with an experienced recruitment consultantFeature Articles, please contact us.

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Editor, writer. Interests include writing on recruitment, health care public relations jobs, medical writer jobs and requirements

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