GUIDE 2022

What is Medical Writing?

Medical writing is a profession dedicated to communicating scientific and medical information to appropriate target audiences, such as healthcare professionals, regulators, patients, and the general public, to achieve certain objectives.

A medical writer, also called a medical communicator, is a professional who produces a range of scientific documents describing research results, product use, drug- or disease-related educational or promotional literature, publication articles, content for healthcare websites, health-related magazines, or news articles, and other medical information. Medical writers write scientific documents, marketing materials, and research papers covering recent breakthroughs, treatments, and drugs on behalf of clinical clients.

If you want to become a professional medical writer, you have landed on the right post. This blog gives you a quick and nice idea about the different types of medical writing, what this field focuses on, and which steps this process involves, in addition to discussing its different benefits medical writers and the healthcare industry can enjoy.

Types of Medical Writing

In general, many people are unfamiliar with what medical writers do. As a matter of fact, many of them are unaware that medical writing is a career. In the pharmaceutical and healthcare communication industry, every medical writer generates different types of content. Following are the main and most common types of medical writing:

Medical Journalism

This type includes medical news in general, which features concise journalistic-style stories summarizing the latest findings in clinical research. Medical writers write several news stories and attend medical conferences on a regular basis. In general, they write documents like newspaper and magazine articles for the general public. A writer who starts working as a medical news reporter can learn how to identify the most important aspects of a research study, which are also helpful for other types of medical writing projects. 

Medical Publications

Medical publication professionals work with physicians and researchers to write and edit posters, abstracts, manuscripts for refereed journals, and oral presentations for medical conferences. Medical writers are also medical journal editors who write and review journal articles. A medical communicator also creates summaries of conference sessions and news articles for professional audiences. Medical writers in the scientific publications area may work at educational or healthcare institutions or biotech or pharmaceutical companies.

Medical Education

Medical writing for educational purposes targets physicians, different healthcare experts, and students and patients having a particular medical concern. For physicians, pharmacists, and other medical professionals, many medical writers write textbooks, Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs, e-learning modules, literature review articles, slide decks, etc. Some medical communicators also write training materials for staff in biotech settings. They also write patient education material for students and patients, which falls under the medico-marketing writing category in pharmaceutical companies.

Medical Marketing for Healthcare Products

Medical writing for marketing purposes must have communicative and informative content. A professional medical writer writes content for pharmaceutical or biotechnological companies to meet their development and promotional purposes through the correct advertising information. They write and edit different materials for lay audiences, including product monographs, reviews, brochures, handouts, training manuals, advertisements, website content, etc.

Regulatory Documents

Regulatory medical writing is a form of technical writing that regulatory agencies need in the approval process for medical devices and drugs. It is the most formal type of medical writing that relies a lot on concise facts. Regulatory writers are important for any company in the pharmaceutical industry. They write and edit documents for regulatory submissions, such as for marketing acceptance of new drugs or to perform new clinical trials. Some regulatory submission documents are Common Technical Documents (CTD), package inserts of drugs, subject narratives, annual reports, etc.

What Does Medical Writing Focuses On?

If you think medical writing focuses on just a single thing, you are wrong. There is a lot happening in the medical and healthcare communication industry, and medical writers’ work focuses on various things. Here is what medical writing focuses on:

New Therapies and Drugs

Before testing any new medicine or therapy on human subjects, the drug developers apply for permission to run clinical studies by submitting an application. These applications summarize manufacturing information, scientific information available about the product, investigational plan and analyses to achieve study objectives, and information about the intention of the trial. Also, with the development program proceeding, the application needs to update for every new study. In addition, a number of key documents teams need to run the clinical studies. For all this, drug developers need medical writers to write and edit such documents.

Clinical Trials

During the clinical trials (research studies performed on people aiming to evaluate medical intervention), many documents need writing or updating throughout the course of a clinical program. Medical writers also work to make amendments to the CSPs that describe changes to the planned study or analyses, report drug safety data in the annual Development Safety Update Report (DSUR) and update the Investigator’s Brochure in preparation for the start of the upcoming studies. A competent medical writer also focuses on final statistical analyses of trial data and describes it in the Statistical Analysis Plan (SAP).

Medical Devices

Many companies seek competent writers to present information on novel medical devices. For implantable devices, for example, companies will have to provide a lay summary of the main safety and performance aspects of the device with clinical evaluation outcomes to the public. Medical writers use their scientific knowledge and writing skills to present such information or to write clinical evaluation reports (CER), clinical investigation plans, investigator brochures, and post-market follow-up studies.

Education and Research Results

New knowledge and information keep on becoming a part of the medical field by way of an ever-increasing number of research studies and novel ideas and thoughts. Medical writing focuses on communicating all this information in an effective manner to different audiences. Medical communicators collect research results and create various documents for developing educational activities for physicians and other practitioners. The field also focuses on creating educational material for students and patients having particular medical concerns.

What is the Medical Writing Process?

Medical writing enjoys great popularity in the medical industry. Writing comprehensive medical content has now become a great profession, which involves offering higher-level information to medical professionals and patients. To communicate scientific communication, there is a comprehensive medical writing process that a professional medical writer must follow. Here is the breakdown of the medical writing process:

Pick a Field

Choosing a medical field is of the utmost importance. Some notable fields for medical writing are medical education and training, health monitoring, and disease management. We advise you to choose a field that you understand since a vague approach to any medical field can pose dangers. If you want to become a medical communicator, you must have substantial knowledge in all types of therapeutic areas. Medical writers need to have an awareness of scientific regulations related to the respective subject and enough expertise in offering comprehensive articles to doctors, scientists, specialists, regulators, patients, and non-medical persons.

Collate Research Data

Reading is important to collate relevant scientific information about a respective field of healthcare. You should learn about a chosen field and understand the way it works. While doing this, medical writers should maintain the integrity of the research data and offer up-to-date medical information to the readers. Medical writers must have enough expertise to maintain complete accuracy and security of collected research data. Also, they must have enough skills to deliver information about the latest medical inventions.

Explore Relevant Medical Resources

The medical writing process also involves exploring countless resources. You can read peer-reviewed articles, medical books, and online resources to get help and gain knowledge about your chosen field of medical research. In doing so, however, you should follow relevant, authentic healthcare websites. All in all, medical writers should have a clear understanding of the process of exploring relevant resources that justifies the type of article they are pursuing.

Write Lucid Medical Content

After collating data and exploring different resources, a medical writer writes scientific documents in the most lucid manner. As a medical writer, you must offer clear declarations of the objectives and organize ideas while adding information in a creative manner. You should use appropriate language and the level of technical information suiting the understanding of the respective audience. For this purpose, having an understanding of medical terms is important. While writing, you should understand the mindset of readers and offer an appropriate solution to the issue in a simple communicative manner.

The documents for regulatory submission must fulfill the defined structures and formats, and the content must follow the regulatory rules and other guidelines. The content should have a systematic arrangement and no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes. The main thing a medical writer should follow is the independent viewpoint and preparing the content within a decided timeline.

Get Acceptance

The last part of the medical writing process is the acceptance of content by the medical professionals. It is ideal to get approval from all the stakeholders related to the chosen medical field. For that purpose, the content should have authentic medical information. To get approval from different audiences, medical writers share their written content on different community boards and medical conference pages. You can also enhance the scope of your medical journals by circulating them on social media.

What Are the Benefits of Effective Medical Writing?

To some medical professionals, writing is a source of enjoyment. The considerate healthcare experts write for the pleasure obtained from the creative writing activity and logical sharing and the desire to increase knowledge and benefit the human race. For these authors, writing may act as a mode of expressing the pleasure of scientific discovery. But for others, the advantages they can gain from effective medical writing fall into the following categories:

  • Career
  • Professional
  • Institutional
  • Practical

Career Benefits

While training, the incorporation of written medical communication into the assessment and accreditation system recognizes the significance of written medical communication. A majority of medical specialty assessments entail a written component where candidates must write brief text within a short period of time. A good deal of international professional specialty qualifications includes a mini-thesis, which demands elements of fundamental research techniques and manuscript preparation.

The major reason for many professionals to start medical writing is to meet the specific job requirements set by employers, i.e., medical institutions or universities. This involves the first appointment to an educational position, confirmation or renewal of that appointment, promotion to a higher-level position, and granting of tenure.

For some public and private hospitals worldwide, publication in recognized journals is a requirement for appointment as a consultant. It is also a must to have a first-author journal publication for specialty accreditation set by some of the specialist training committees. Another career benefit is the application for membership in reputable academic societies.

Professional Benefits

In general, the publication is a form of international currency that cuts across geographical boundaries. Having published articles in prestigious international journals helps young professionals a lot when they apply for positions in foreign centers and for competitive international fellowships. For established healthcare experts, publications are important to gain recognition as a professional in a certain field at national and international levels, leading to numerous benefits, such as appointments as consultants to government agencies, advisory and editorial boards, and expert panels and invitations to lecture at scientific meetings.

Publications with a focus on a particular topic or field also help attain a certain standard of academic endeavor by various reputable global educational societies. From an educational perspective, writing and publishing can improve your prospects of succeeding in applications for research funding, funding extension, and obtaining further funding. All grant-awarding bodies also examine the publication track records of the investigators in detail.

Scientific study, research, and writing impose discipline, which, as a result, increases the professional’s depth of knowledge in a specific subject or field. This knowledge enhances and improves their clinical skills and enables better teaching of students. Through repeated scientific writing and publication in a certain field or topic, you, as a medical writer, can gain acknowledgment as a specialist by your peers.

Institutional Benefits

Publication in refereed articles is one of the most important means for an individual, department, university, or medical institution to achieve international recognition. In such cases, the author’s region and country may also receive an advantage from published work if it is on some major topic in particular. Numerous educational organizations and government bodies use publications as a measure of academic productivity. You should know that published work contributes to an organization’s educational prestige and reputation and impacts the budget allocation for individual academic cost centers and departments.

Practical Benefits

The major practical reason for healthcare professionals to know how to write is the benefit got from the basic training gained during the manuscript preparation process. Medical writing involves the discipline of carrying out exhaustive literature research, collecting and analyzing data, and drafting and reviewing the manuscript over and over. Those authors with their manuscripts accepted and published will better appreciate what is in medical journals and other publications.

We recommend all healthcare professionals avail the opportunity of serving as journal manuscript reviewers. Having a great amount of information available in many journals and other scientific documents, it is important for medical healthcare experts and academics to have the ability to judge the quality and reliability of published work. Those who publish and appreciate the process of writing documents and editing them can better read and evaluate articles.

The ability to provide preferential assessment and judgment of the written content is the skill that will make you a better medical expert. After all, patients prefer to visit the most knowledgeable and informed professionals. So, looking up to and respecting the expertise of your knowledgeable peers will help you become better in your field.

The Bottom Line

The need for medical writers is growing in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry since companies develop many new drugs and medical devices on a regular basis, and there is a demand for the generation of several scientific documents for submission to regulatory authorities during the approval process. The medical writing profession is capable of connecting scientific research results and medical interventions to both professionals and non-professionals. So, to become a part of this, all you need is to have knowledge in both writing and medical science and combine your creative writing talent with the details of the scientific research process.