medical writer

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(Editor’s note: This is the third article by Dr. Nisha Nair in a series launched by India-West specifically designed to provide an insight into clinical trials and the process of ensuring that the medicines people consume are safe. Also, they will not only provide information about and explore various areas of the medical research industry, but will serve to highlight the clinical research industry as a good career prospect for the Indian American community.)

We have previously explored the conduct of a clinical trial for new drugs and the process to ensure safety of drugs in the market. Now, we come to the not so obviously important field of medical writing that is a lucrative career option for medical professionals and editors.

New information is being constantly added to the medical field through researches, clinical experiences, and new ideas. All these need to be disseminated to the appropriate audiences and this is where medical writers play a role. Medical writers are not actual scientists who do the research but a group of qualified writers that are trained to tailor the information according to their target audience.

Medical writing involves authoring scientific documents that cater to a specific audience like doctors, scientists, regulatory authorities etc. Some of the documents authored by a medical writer include documents for regulatory review and submission, research related documents, medical educational and promotional literature, publication articles like journal manuscripts and abstracts, content for healthcare websites, health magazines or news articles.

A medical writer needs to have a clear understanding of medical and healthcare related concepts and be able to present the gathered data in a delectable way to the target audience. There are also specific regulatory and other requirements that a medical writer is expected to fulfil. The global medical writing market size is expected to reach U.S. $3.75 billion by 2026 registering a CAGR of 10.3%, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. Also, another survey reported that medical writing is the fourth most outsourced clinical function.

Requirements of a medical writer include:

Domain knowledge

  • Basic knowledge of medical and research related terminology, sometimes specific to the therapeutic area
  • Drug development process and drug safety
  • Regulations and guidelines like FDA templates, ICH guidelines etc.

General writing skills

  • Language and grammar
  • Literature search and referencing
  • Presentation of research data
  • Ethics and legality

Other skills

  • Ability to understand the purpose and requirements of the project
  • Ability to write to the target audience
  • Thorough research of the subject
  • Logical organization of thoughts and ideas
  • Attention to details
  • Ability to work across teams (often remotely) as well as independently
  • Good communication and coordination with other stakeholders
  • Time management, to meet deadlines and commitments

The most important advantage of being a medical writer is the flexibility the role provides. One can be a writer or an editor and can opt to work part time or full time in remote as well as office-based roles. Freelancing is common for writing jobs because many healthcare corporations and facilities have needs for content or documents that is project-based, to roll out a new product, market an event, or other types of projects. To know more about career options in the field of medical writing and also if you need help in getting to this field, please contact the author at:

(Dr. Nisha Nair is director of the Pacific Biosafety Group. She is an industry consultant in the field of clinical research, medical writing and pharmacovigilance, a trainer and career counselor for those in the biopharmaceutical industry and academia that want to get into these fields.)

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