Skip to content


What Is Medical Writing?

What Is Medical Writing?

Are you experienced in medical affairs and a skilled communicator? Do you want a career in the medical world?

Have you considered medical writing and editing? Medical communicators write everything from the medical journal you read to study reports. 

Read our ultimate guide to becoming a medical writer. From medical writing to the different types of medical writers, we’ll share how to start your career.

What is medical writing?

Medical writing involves the development and creation of medical documents. From outlining to writing, a medical writer unites the skill of healthcare professionals with the creativity of medical journal editors. They write digital and print papers detailing medical or healthcare matters specifically. 

Medical writers write technical documents, research documents, and clinical study reports. They also write documents such as an investigator’s brochure.

They work in various formats, from presentations to long-form papers.

There are many kinds of medical communicators ranging from writers and editors, health care journalists to supervisors. They can also write educational material for young medical professionals.

Medical communication is growing in importance as health research develops. Medical writers write for both an expert audience and the general public.  The need to share, explain and promote medicine is vital. With the rise of telehealth services like online medical certificates, the demand for accurate and accessible medical information has increased, making medical writing an even more vital and promising career.

What types of medical writing are there? 

There are many types of medical writers. Science communication can specialize in subject matter and format. 

The types of medical writing include technical writers, regulatory writers, promotional, marketers, journalists, and specialists. 

Technical writers communicate expert knowledge in an accessible language. From articles to educational material, technical writers can write for book publishers or a biotechnology company.

Regulatory writing involves an expert understanding of the research to write scientific documents. An essential part of clinical research, regulatory medical writing throughout a drug development process, for example. The regulatory covers early research to clinical trials.

Promotional medical writers and marketers advertise medical products to other medical bodies or the public. They cover everything from pharmaceutical companies promoting a new drug to advertising research to science editors.

Journalists can work for the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and cover news in the medical world. Medical reporting requires some understanding of healthcare but less specialist knowledge. From covering new drugs to breakthrough research, journalists write for medical journals.

A specialist writer might have expert knowledge on one particular field, like rare diseases. They can write for anyone but usually, work with a clinical researcher rather than broader bodies. 

What are the medical writing guidelines?

Medical writing, like all healthcare professionals and other fields of writing, must follow ethical guidelines. It is imperative in medicine as there are often sensitive issues of patient informed consent. 

The journal you are writing for might have publication practice guidelines or pharmaceutical companies impose trial protocols, and there are often publication ethics to follow for safety reporting.

Each journal will have specific guidelines for writing styles. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) have their recommendations.

There are medical regulatory agencies to ensure the quality of all medical publications. Regulatory medical bodies have guidelines that all companies should follow. 

The guidelines are there for uniformity among submissions and ethical publication practices. Make sure to verse yourself in ICMJE and AMWA guidelines if you want to start a career in medical writing. 

Professional medical bodies also have guidelines for ethical reasons. It is essential to familiarize yourself by ensuring the clinical study has informed consent to ensure scientific validity.

To ensure you write regulatory documents, make sure all participants have completed an informed consent form.

What skills do you need for medical writing?

A competent medical writer will need both expert scientific skills and strong writing ability.

Writing documents for the medical world requires understanding medical terminology, medical information, and medical devices. Understanding a niche sector of medicine is more common and practical than trying to understand everything.

The essential skills for healthcare communications lie in your ability to write as the entire job involves writing, from long-form to shorter technical writing. 

It would help if you had strong writing ability, from an expert understanding of language and grammar to conciseness. Creativity is also essential. You will primarily need to condense complex studies into accessible content, and a creative mind will help you structure this.

You also need to know how to write for a range of audiences. Learn to adapt your tone for experts, buyers, and the general public.

Enroll in writing courses if you feel that your writing knowledge and skills need improving. Medical writing training will give you a good idea of the skills to develop and how, with a medical writing certificate at the end.

You also need strong research skills. Depending on the type of medical writing you prefer, research might be crucial for your role. A journalist, for example, will need to do vast amounts of research to write. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of fact-checking, referencing, and how to appraise medical sources.

Analytical skills are also essential. It is vital to know how to analyze and consider all medical data. From interpreting data to building graphs, this might also require solid scientific knowledge.

Lastly, you need to understand the ethical and legal requirements of any research. Always make sure you are writing for credible research.

What education requirements do you need for medical writing?

While there are no formal educational requirements, it is good to have a background in science or healthcare. Although some positions might require higher education, mostly you don’t need to have taken graduate programs to become a medical writer.

If you are one of the health care professionals or have experience in medical science, continuing medical education will help. Take a medical writing course online to learn how to adapt your knowledge and skills to medical communication. 

Many online courses will provide a guide to becoming a medical writer. You will receive a detailed guide to becoming a medical writer and a certificate in medical writing.

If you have little medical experience, you can learn the basics with other courses to kickstart your career. 

It would help if you also read books on medical writing and work written by journal editors to see what is required. Learn to imitate their styles and practices to improve your writing. 

Speak to a healthcare professional or clinical practice to gauge your level of medical knowledge. Speaking to professionals will help you decide what type of writer you want and write for your audience. An online course will teach you the basics of medical terminology and how to read data.

What are the benefits of becoming a medical writer?

There are many benefits to this career option. 

As medical writing professionals are highly skilled, especially those with more experience, you will have strong job security. The longer you spend building up your portfolio as a medical writer, the stronger your resume will be.

Further, over time you will build up your knowledge of scientific information, which is invaluable. The more you write scientific documents, the stronger a writer you will become.

There is often a significant degree of flexibility in this career path. From being a freelance writer to taking part-time work, writers gain the luxury of flexibility. As usual, all you will need is a laptop and space to work, and some writers can choose their hours.

Travel is another benefit of medical writing. As medical and scientific research takes place worldwide to medical conferences, opportunities to travel sometimes come up.

You will often have early access to new research and data before it becomes public. If you are lucky to specialize in a field, you find fascinating, you will get the chance to read early research.

You will constantly learn. From studying interesting topics to new fields of research, you will soak up a lot of information.

If you love writing and constantly learning, becoming a medical writer might be a promising career for you. 

How much do medical writers make?

How much a medical writer earns depends on the type of writer they become. 

Glassdoor suggests that the average yearly earnings are £36,430. Zippia suggests that medical writers can earn as much as $105,229.

Different research organizations will pay different rates. If you are a freelancer, you might earn a different sum for each journal article.

A medical writer is one of the career paths that offer progression. The more experience and expert knowledge you get as a regulatory medical writer, the higher your earnings.

How to get into medical writing?

A flexible, rewarding career in a growing field, medical writing is a worthwhile career to embark on.

The first step to becoming a medical writer is to decide on your path. Whether you want to go into medical journalism or educational materials, specializing earlier will help you focus your career. Each requires its technical knowledge and skills, so assess your abilities and decide where you fit best.

Ensure your skills are up to scratch. Revise your medical writing ability, understanding of grammar, sentence structure, graphs, tables, statistics, and terminology. Also, make sure you know legalities and ethical processes, such as the AMWA Journal guidelines.

Decide whether you want to go into freelance medical writing or be an internal medicine writer for one medical publication.

If you want to improve your skills as a medical writer, take medical writing courses. Courses for Success offer an Explore a Career in Medical Writing Online Certificate Course. Online medical writing courses offer a guide on how to be a writer and medical writing certification.

Why Courses for Success? 

Courses for Success offers over 10,000 online courses, all of which aim to help you in your personal development and career progression. Not only that, but you can also study them anywhere and at any time, and take them at your own pace, too.

You don’t need career diplomas or specific experience to get started. From our coding courses and trading courses to design courses and developer courses, every course we offer will help boost your prospects, no matter who you are.

Beyond just the education itself, students will be issued a certificate online after completing each of the learning courses they do. Our online medical writing courses are no exception and are recognized by industry leaders. You could make a name for yourself by signing up for a Courses for Success short course today.

Previous article What Is Self-Development?