Scientific Services roles

What is a Medical Writer?

Medical Writers combine their knowledge of science and their research skills to write scientific copy, which is used to create materials that medical communications agencies produce. These materials vary in format, including print and online media, from publications to materials
for international scientific meetings. By carrying out this work it ensures healthcare professionals and other audiences are informed of available treatments and updates in the treatment or disease landscape.

Some of the types of materials a Medical Writer will work on include:

  • Manuscripts from latest clinical trials for publication in peer-reviewed medical journals.
  • Reviews or book chapters around a particular disease and its treatment.
  • Abstracts, slide kits and posters for major international congresses or stand-alone meetings.
  • Meeting reports or newsletters from congresses and advisory boards.
  • Educational material for patients and training materials for sales reps.
  • Content for websites and mobile/tablet apps, and scripts for videos.

As you can guess, no two weeks are the same. One week you might be working on slides or a manuscript, the next travelling abroad to attend a major international congress.

What qualifications and skills do I need to be a Medical Writer?

There isn’t an established route into medical writing. Many writers come into it from other relevant roles, like research.  As a minimum, you’ll need a degree in a life science. Some writers will have gained a master’s or a PhD. You don’t necessarily need a medical qualification, as you’ll learn about specific disease areas and their treatments as you get involved with different projects.

Some of the skills you need include:

  • Accuracy and attention to detail, along with a good command of English.
  • An ability to be flexible (you’ll often need to work across different project types, or different therapy areas) and highly organised (deadlines are usually tight!).
  • Good interpersonal skills – Medical Writers work as part of inter-disciplinary teams and, in some cases, with people outside of their company.
  • You need to be comfortable communicating with people from a range of backgrounds.
  • Ability to handle criticism – your work will often get commented on from senior editorial staff or clients.
  • If you can handle constructive criticism you will develop sought-after skills in this specialist field.

Most training for Medical Writers takes place on-the-job and progress is made by learning from the feedback you’re given.  We also provide internal training sessions to support the development of our new writers.  You will work on one or more account teams, and will benefit from the support and experience of other writing, editorial and account management colleagues. As you get to work on different projects, you’ll learn how to present information and pitch it at the right level for the intended audience.

What career prospects are there for Medical Writers?

There are a number of options available for Medical Writers including:

  • Moving into management, taking care of teams of Medical Writers and managing projects at local and international level.
  • If the editorial side is something you want to stick with, you can progress to the role of Principal Writer.


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