A couple of days ago I talked about my guest post Anne Wayman’s great freelance writing site where you’ll find a wealth of advice for writers of any genre.

I was astounded by the response. In addition to a few people dropping in on Anne’s site with comments & questions about how to further themselves in freelance medical, I also received many emails from folk looking for any information on actually breaking into the medical writing world.

So I decided it might be a good idea to share some of my insights for starting-up. Maybe a “Beginner’s Medical Writing” series – a step-by-step guide to getting yourself started in freelance medical writing.

I can’t tell you how to get rich quick, how to become an overnight success, or give your any links to sites advertising heaps of high-paying writing jobs. But I can share some tips based on how I got started in the freelance medical writing world.

I’ll be sharing some very basic things from the ground upwards – most of the people who contacted me had questions that focused around the “breaking in” aspect, so I hope to be able to provide some encouragement for anyone thinking of becoming a freelance medical writer (or a freelance “anything” writer, for that matter).

I’m no techno-guru (quite the exact opposite, as it happens!), so if I can do this, you can too!

Which Branch Of Medical Writing?

Just as for any career, whether online or offline, you first need to decide which area of medical writing you’d like to be involved in. Naturally this may change as time goes by & you take on different projects and develop different preferences; however, at least initially it is wise to target some area to get you started. In determining which type of writing you would like to do, you will also have to take into account your educational qualifications and professional experiences.

Although there are large numbers of medical writers who do not have any scientific educational qualifications, there is no doubt that having some scientific qualifications is necessary for some areas of medical writing. Pharmaceutical companies, for instance, typically employ scientifically qualified individuals as regulatory medical writers.

Of the medical writers who I know who are non-scientists, the majority either have a degree in English, or journalism, or some other field that translates into “communication”. Additionally, some have professional backgrounds in marketing, public relations, as well as other similar careers. And certainly, much of the work undertaken by non-scientific medical writers tends to revolve around marketing.

So certainly your initial leap into medical writing might be better accomplished if you focus in on an aspect that you can more easily lever your way into, based on either your educational qualifications, or previous professional experiences.

Examples Of Work Typically Undertaken By Scientific Medical Writers

  • Preparing scientific journal articles, abstracts, posters or presentations
  • Medical editing
  • Preparation of medical education materials
  • Writing white papers
  • Preparing regulatory documents

Examples Of Work Typically Undertaken By Non-Scientific Medical Writers

  • Patient education material
  • Proposal writing
  • Public relations
  • Training manuals
  • Magazine articles
  • Newsletters
  • Internet content

These are by no means exhaustive lists, and there’s no divisive wall between the two types of writers – you’ll certainly find both types of writer in both types of work category. But hopefully this is a general guide that will help you decide what type of medical writing might be a good area for you to kick-start yourself into.

So I’ll conclude “Step 1” by encouraging you to spend a little time thinking about which area of medical writing might be for you initially.

Stay tuned for Step 2!

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