Medical writers create scientific documents, such as regulatory applications, research protocols, manuscripts and other written documents for researchers.
As a medical writer, you have a wide range of job options. For example, you could prepare regulatory documents for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for drugs and devices. Alternatively, you may write protocols—similar to a recipe or cookbook—for testing drug or treatment regimens. Protocols also refer to prescribing a drug, its effects and safety guidelines. You could work directly with researchers or doctors to help write research articles, monographs, and reviews on medical topics. You might also work on education kits that educators use to teach medical students. In a corporate setting, you’d produce sales training materials, press releases and fact sheets, or website materials for government organizations or pharmaceutical industry. You may serve as a journalist to cover health and medical issues.
Where You Work
Depending on your specialty you could work as a medical writer in a variety of settings. These include hospitals, medical schools, clinics, health science centers, foundations, nonprofit associations, pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies, and university research communications.
How You Help
As a medical writer, you work very much behind the scenes. However, you play an important role in communication the needs, methods and outcomes of medical research, such as drug development. You highlight specific rules and criteria to help produce the safest and most reliable medication. A medical writer is involved in every cancer drug, contributing to effective communication about risks and treatment of cancer. Researchers must involve you in their work. This may be through writing safety protocols or instructions for a drug to undergo a clinical trial.
Helpful High School Courses
- Computer science
Skills to Build
- Solid writing skills
- Attention to factual detail and accuracy
- The ability to see relationships between ideas and to organize complex information
- Good time management and planning skills
- Solid background in biology and other sciences
- At the forefront of medical research
- Can work in a variety of settings
- Rewarding work that benefits the lives of others
- Work can be tedious
- Often work to deadlines
- Requires wide range of skills
Education You Need
Bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a science or equivalent experience
A Day in the Life
A Day in the Life
9:00Review safety protocol for chemotherapy study
11:30Meet with principal investigators to discuss clinical trial protocols
2:00Work on medical journal article to report safety of a recently FDA approved drug
4:00Write draft of press release announcing submission of drug for FDA approval
5:15Initiate paperwork for FDA approval for drug from a clinical trial
Average Annual Salary Range
* Actual salary dependent on education, experience, location, and other variables