Are you interested in starting out your career as an entry-level medical writer?
There is no cookie-cutter path to becoming a medical writer. Across the United States, medical writing professionals come from different backgrounds. What all of them have in common is that they have the knowledge and skills required to enter and excel in the medical writing field.
The demand for medical writing is increasing at a rapid pace in the pharmaceutical and healthcare communication industry. In general, medical writing is communicating medical and scientific information to different types of audiences. Contract research organizations (CROs), communications companies, educational institutions, and pharmaceutical agencies recruit medical writing professionals in entry-level positions to prepare different types of medical documents for regulatory submissions.
Here is everything you need to know about what does an entry-level medical writer do:
What Exactly Does an Entry-Level Medical Writer Do?
Entry-level medical writing professionals work with scientists and healthcare professionals to create medical content that describes results, product use, and other medical information. Medical writing professionals produce a variety of medical documents, including medical books, newspaper articles, press releases, training manuals, patient education material, research proposals, healthcare advertisements, clinical trial protocols, and study reports.
Medical writing professionals contribute to document quality control, such as making the written documentation comply with guidelines. They also create content for presentations and conferences for investigators, medical institutes, pharmaceutical agencies, and medical communications agencies.
Companies employ new graduates for entry-level medical writing positions. For this position, they need a Bachelor’s degree in a medical or science field with zero to a couple of years of prior work experience. Associate medical writers earn the lowest base salary in their field due to basic education and limited experience in medical or scientific writing. For all medical writing positions, including entry-level roles, candidates must have strong communication skills, expertise in different applications, experience in clinical areas, and the ability to work with teams.
Leading companies and academic institutes recruit new graduates to fill the following medical writer positions:
Titles for Entry-Level Medical Writers
For entry-level positions, companies seek medical writing experts every now and then. The titles in each agency differ from another due to a number of reasons. Here are a few common job titles to which entry-level medical writing professionals can apply:
Associate Medical Writer
Associate medical writers write, edit, proofread and check medical or scientific content. One of the many medical writer jobs is to plan campaigns with the teams and work together with management staff. They also attend occasional client meetings to plan, scope, and discuss campaigns. Those who work as remote writers also need to travel to attend national and international medical conferences.
Junior Medical Writer
The primary duties of a junior medical writing professional involve providing research assistance in the development phases of projects, assisting with creating high-quality medical communications content in specific therapeutic areas, and working together with management personnel to coordinate work to achieve project goals. Companies demand junior medical writers to give strategic recommendations, assist in the formation of new business development initiatives, and understand team expectations in terms of budgeted hours, deadlines, and other objectives.
Junior Medical Editor
Pharmaceutical training companies and communications agencies seek junior medical editing professionals having a sharp eye for editing and proofreading medical content. For the entry-level role, companies prefer detail-oriented candidates with medical or science background and familiarity with medical terminology. Your duty as a junior medical editor involves reviewing and editing multimedia projects developed from medical information, clinical studies, statistical data, and market research.
Assistant Medical Writer
You can work in a pharmaceutical or communications agency as an assistant medical writer to create, implement, and maintain data management solutions for the collection, validation, and analysis of research and outcomes data. The role also involves assisting with data collection and communications with human subject participants and study investigators with the setup, troubleshooting, and maintenance of computer systems. Also, it is essential to adhere to legal and professional codes with respect to privacy and data security.
Entry-Level Medical Writer Responsibilities
All medical writers hold different degrees. Many medical writers complete their graduation in science and medicine, while some have degrees in English, journalism, and other subjects. Since they have diverse educational backgrounds, each entry-level medical writer has a different role. Some of the typical responsibilities of an associate medical writer are as follows:
Developing Outlines and Drafts
An associate medical writer is responsible for the development of outlines and drafts of materials, such as slide decks, reports, publications, training materials, etc., according to the project brief. Their duty involves ensuring the incorporation of review comments and on-time delivery of the projects.
Creating Medical Content
As an entry-level medical writer, your duty will involve writing medical and editorial content for pharmaceutical companies, medical communication agencies, and healthcare firms. An associate medical writer assists with the development of various scientific and medical documents, including advertisements for drugs and devices, grant proposals, health education materials, newspaper and magazine articles, journals, marketing materials, white papers, and regulatory documents. Your duty will also include the management of the writing and editing of publications to support clinical research.
Assisting Other Writers
As an associate medical writer, your job will involve working together with other members of the writing team. You will also review and edit the work of other writers and editors. Your duty will involve optimizing their content, adding new information, ensuring written text has proper citations, and including media as appropriate. Plus, you will assist experienced members of the team, contributing to the writing process.
Performing Literature Searches
The literature search is a comprehensive search of literature relevant to the topic of interest. Relevant literature can include conference abstracts, journal articles, clinical trials, books, etc. Your position will demand you to perform literature searches and assist in the development of protocols.
Junior medical writers are responsible for attending internal update meetings and joining the wider team on onsite client meetings. They also arrange and conduct review meetings with the team and act as an interface to resolve problems and questions arising during the medical writing process. You will also prepare meeting minute reports for high-level external and internal stakeholder engagements.
Ensuring Quality Control
Your duty will involve ensuring the completion of work and that it is of great quality before team distribution or delivery to clients. Your duty will also involve providing medical editing review of draft and final documents produced by other writers before internal/external distribution. This involves both copyediting and content review.
Serving as a Representative
Some associate medical writers also take ownership of completing assigned tasks on time during all stages. They serve as medical writing representatives on project teams, communicate deliverables needed, writing process, and timelines to team members, and ensure document deliverables are processed and compiled according to timelines. If you work as an entry-level medical writer, you will provide appropriate feedback to medical writers to ensure increased future efficiency.
Promoting Content on Social Media
Some employers seek medical writing professionals to produce and publish engaging content every now and then on different social media platforms. Your duty will involve communicating with followers, responding to their questions on time, and monitoring their reviews. Other responsibilities are analyzing and reporting on social media engagement and marketing efforts for system initiatives, working with team members to establish media-specific objectives, KPIs, and measurement goals, and collaborating with marketing and communications colleagues to ensure brand consistency.
Interacting With Clients
Medical writers working in entry-level roles interact with clients, suppliers, and other contributors on content developed. Their duty involves professional interaction with authors, clients, and healthcare experts and understanding the relevant medical fields and external parties’ requirements.
Tips for Entry-Level Medical Writers
If you are just beginning as a junior medical writer or got a new job position, you will have many different duties and responsibilities. Since there is so much to do, we will help you deal with it in an easy way. Here are the tips to help you become a great entry-level medical writer:
Begin with a good template
Starting to work from a good template is key to success. Good templates present useful tips and related regulatory guidance to demonstrate to medical writers the way to build a proper document. There are many templates available to entry-level medical writers as a great learning tool.
Be a productive reader
Good writers are good readers. So, to become a successful writer read a lot of content and submit your piece for publication. Never underestimate the power of publications. Writing for a seasoned editor who either accepts or rejects your content is the initial step. Submit your work for appraisal and careful examination by an expert.
Expand your medical writing network
Join medical markets and medical associations, such as the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA), etc., to get a chance to mingle with other medical writers who understand the market and are familiar with what medical editors seek. Their annual medical conferences create several lasting professional relations, and the workshops and presentations help improves your writing skills. In addition, it gives you extra credibility as a medical writer.
Join social media platforms
Social media platforms, like Twitter and LinkedIn, are the most valuable online communities for professional medical writers. Join these platforms and stay active to form a professional brand that highlights who you are and what services you offer. You can join Twitter to communicate, share news, and market others’ work. Join LinkedIn groups and share relevant professional insights and information.
Writing is one of those skills in that a writer gets better with the passage of time. However, you need to have an excellent command of grammar, sentence structure, and how to write for your intended audience. Writing for healthcare professionals is different than writing for the general public. Above all, you should write clear content and organize your thoughts in the best manner. You can also consider starting your blog to enhance your writing skills before submitting your work to other publications.
Learn about publications
Different publications run different types of articles, and you will need to match the style and voice of the publication. A number of publications have editorial guidelines for their sites and contact information for medical editors. Consider the readers you are writing for, and personalize your messages and language as needed. For instance, a medical article for an American healthcare professional will differ from the one for the American audience.
Take the rejection with a happy heart
Rejection happens – your written content gets accepted, except for a few. If this happens, know that it will take some time. You will learn from each rejection, begin fine-tuning every written piece of work, find out what editors want, and cater to their different needs. Start at a slow pace. Once you get to a certain point and become popular among others, the work will keep coming to you.
Enjoy the process and be proud of your work
Know that you will earn a different amount of money if you were to see patients full-time as a doctor than writing. It is just worth your time if you enjoy it. Take pride in your written and published content. You are a perfect fit for medical writing if you have a desire to get your written work published and have other professionals appreciate it rather than staying motivated just by the money.
Entry-level writers in the medical or science writing field have a number of duties, from creating written material for marketing the service, product, or agency to assisting other writers and promoting the content on social media. Once you get a nice understanding of the role and responsibilities of an entry-level medical writer and the available opportunities, you can utilize your scientific knowledge and passion for writing to get promoted to higher positions in this interesting and lucrative field.