How to Break Into The Medical Writing Field

Experienced writers sometimes find that their earnings cap out lower than they would like.

Many jobs don’t pay incredibly well due to competition in the marketplace and the ease at which the specific skills required to complete those jobs can be acquired.

But there are more lucrative jobs out there, assuming you have the prerequisite skills.

Medical writing is one field that, if you can break into, may significantly increase your earnings. 

So how do you break into this field? Here are some things you need to know before trying to make that leap.

What Education Level Do You Need?

If you have a degree in the medical field, you are already one step ahead of the competition… to some extent.

Those with a medical background might already grasp the words and phrases used in the medicinal field, but nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and others aren’t necessarily good writers.

Not that they can’t write well. But they may lack the experience and skills writers use to convey information concisely and pleasingly.

So do you need a medical degree?

For some work, you might. Make sure to look at the job requirements before applying. However, having a good portfolio or certification may be enough in some cases.

Research is also important. You should spend your free time reading as much medical literature as you can stand, including regulations that affect the industry, and advise from those already working in the industry. 

What Medical Writers Do

Medical writers typically work across three major fields:

  • Medical writing
  • Health writing
  • Scientific communication

Medical Writing

Medical writing can encompass a lot. This may include regulatory writing, pharmaceutical writing, education writing, B2B or B2C content, or content that appears on labels, press releases, or in handbooks, to name a few. 

To better understand medical writing, you might want to look at the next section about scientific communication. This will give you a better idea about some of the skills you will need to acquire before attempting to take medical writing work.

Scientific Communication

Papyrus Editor already discussed scientific writing career options and courses, so have a look here to learn more.

Health Writing

If you have read articles on blogs like MindBodyGreen, health books, health articles posted on Facebook, and YouTube videos focusing on health, then you have more exposure to health writing than you may think.

Health writing content is sometimes less technical and intended to be understood by laypeople. This content often distills research into more straightforward and easier to understand language, or it tells a story about exercise, personal wellness journeys, or a recipe. 

You may also be asked to write product information, reviews, or landing pages. You can get a better idea of how this looks by checking out Innate Response and Host Defense to see examples.

The writers of this content typically cut out the jargon and complex terms, so the skills you need will more relate to how well you parse through the technical stuff and instead write conversationally and with empathy.

How to Improve Your Chances

A few things can make you a more attractive candidate for work in the medical writing field.

Have a Portfolio

This is essential for any writer. But when trying to get into fields that requires a greater degree of technical knowledge about a specific industry, a portfolio is all the more critical.

But how can you build a portfolio if you can’t get work? The answer is to write articles on your own. While getting these published would be a good idea, it isn’t entirely necessary. 

Also consider creating a professional website where you can post these articles.

Talk With People in the Field

Networking goes a long way. Learning from those already in the field can give you insights into where to look for work, what to say in contact emails, and even advice on best practices for writing articles.

Take Online Courses

Simply having certifications can give you a massive leg up. This shows you are willing to invest in yourself for the benefit of your employer. 

If you can commit to completing these courses and building out a portfolio, you will be in a good place. 

Have the Right Tools and Grammar

Perhaps more than any other industry, medical professionals take their work seriously. Don’t waste anyone’s time by submitting unedited work or that is not on time. 

Developing time management skills and good communication will be essential. Conduct yourself in a way that you would expect from others. 

If you do, it will be easier to get a referral you can use to build your brand, and, hopefully, your earnings.

Final Thoughts

Breaking into the medical writing industry will take a more significant personal investment than many other industries. 

If you can get your foot in the door, things will begin to open up and may provide exciting and profitable opportunities!