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Everything You Need to Know About Medical Writing

by Tracy Finke

The medical industry isn’t just hospitals, doctors and nurses making people healthier, there’s actually a whole host of background operations that are vital for the industry functioning in the best way possible.

For example, medical research is conducted everyday to find and improve on the medicines and healthcare services that save lives. And likewise, medical writers work hard to detail and document this new research to ensure everyone inside and outside of the industry knows about it, including medical professions and even the general public.

There are many other aspects of the medical industry that medical writers deal with too. Their jobs require you to be highly informative and resourceful, so let’s discuss everything you need to know about what medical writing is and the types of medical businesses that usually hire them. More information about medical writing can be found here.

What is Medical Writing?

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First things first, let’s delve a little deeper into what medical writing is.

In short, medical writing is the production of medical documents, including but not limited to peer-reviewed articles, clinical trial research, medical device reviews, education documents, and so much more. Any written document (whether digital or print) that is specifically related to the medical industry will probably have been written by a professional medical writer.

Medical writers usually work directly with the researchers, scientists, or doctors that know most about the subject at hand. These key players are most commonly known as subject matter experts (SMEs). It takes rigorous attention to detail and expansive knowledge of the industry to complete medical documents, and working alongside SMEs ensures a medical writer is well-informed and literate enough to complete the documents with no errors.

Who are Medical Writing Documents Written For?

Well, everyone really. Depending on the purpose and scope of the document, the intended audience will range from medical researchers to doctors to nurses to even us, the patients. The objective is to make valuable clinical data or information accessible to anyone that needs to know about it.

Why is Medical Writing So Important?

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The medical industry is the heart and soul of society. With there being continuous advancements in medicine, there must be thorough communication between all those involved to ensure information about research findings and our ever-improving healthcare is reported about properly. For example, the documents that are created will come in use in the following ways:

  • Vital medical information-gathering
  • Education and training purposes
  • Global disease management

Continuous knowledge and understanding about medicine and healthcare is the number one thing we humans depend on. And without in depth and methodological medical writing, there would essentially be a breakdown of the way important information is relayed.

What Does a Medical Writer’s Job Involve?

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The average day for a medical writer will typically involve liaising with SMEs to fully comprehend the content they are writing about, and then they will write up the full written text once they have all the technical details and information they need.

The written text can come in many different formats too, including but not limited to:

  • Traditional print documents, eg. newsletters, reports, or bulletins
  • Video or presentations for medical industry events or conventions
  • Website or social media content

Who Are Medical Writers?

Well, the truth is, medical writers are usually medical professionals who have previous firsthand experience in the medical industry itself. After gaining a background in learning the industry inside out, there’s then an opportunity to become what’s known as a medical communicator, including the jobs of medical writing, medical journalism, health care education, and so on.

It’s important to note that each of these jobs are distinct from one another and the types of deliverable written forms will differ depending on what type of media communicator job you have and what kind of documentation you’re producing. Usually medical writers are outsourced and hired externally, but there are some types of medical businesses that have inhouse medical writers too.

What Type of Businesses Need Medical Writers?

With the medical industry continuously expanding into realms once not thought possible, there are a whole variety of businesses that will benefit from hiring medical writers, including but not limited to:

  • Healthcare services and providers (hospitals, doctor surgeries, etc.)
  • Biotech companies (including research organizations)
  • Medical device developers
  • Independent medical review journals
  • Medical education services
  • Governmental organizations

What Type of Skills Does a Medical Writer Need?

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When hiring a medical writer or medical communicator, it’s important you take the time to ensure they have the skills and expertise to complete your documentation needs to the highest standards. There are four main skills that every medical communicator must encompass:

1. Extensive industry knowledge

Every medical professional needs to have a basic understanding of scientific knowledge. The same rule of thumb comes with technical medical writing. You need both formal qualifications and experience. It also helps if the writer has an area of specialized expertise too.

2. Outstanding writing skills

Any type of writer should at the very least have exceptional writing skills and know how to execute precise and error-free written formats. In addition to being literate, they also need to have an eye for punctuation, grammar, and spelling. It’s as simple as ABC when it comes to finding a writer who knows how to write a sophisticated piece of text that reads well.

3. Versatile

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Having a broad set of skills and knowledge across a range of industry-specific areas is also a huge bonus. A writer should know how to adapt their expertise and know how to comply with any set of guidelines they are given. It’s all about being versatile and having the enthusiasm and curiosity to learn more.

4. A methodical mind

As well as being a great communicator (both written and verbal), a medical writer must have a methodical mind too. With the technical processes of the medical industry relying heavily on scientific numerical data, a medical writer must have the analytical skills to conduct important analysis on documents, research, and other types of clinical data.