The advent of the Internet has created a world where content is king, yet it has not improved the financial position of very many writers. In fact, where once writers wrote for major publications and were paid quite nicely for their efforts, today those same writers may work for content mills and earn only a few dollars for a carefully crafted, professionally written article.
The interesting thing is that top quality content is essential to performing well online, yet few are willing to pay for it in accordance. It’s somewhat of a contradiction.
One writing field, however, managed to escape this undesirable phenomenon, and it is called: medical writing.
Medical writing remains one of the most lucrative fields of writing, and the demand for quality medical writers cannot keep up with the supply. Yet, there are thousands of top quality writers online, working for peanuts and not capitalizing on this high demand.
Why is this?
Writers’ “White Coat Syndrome”
Have you ever been at the doctor’s office, when to your shocking surprise, the doctor informed you that your blood pressure is too high?
You know that you’ve been monitoring your blood pressure, although not frequently, because to the best of your knowledge you have no blood pressure problem. Most, if not all the time, your blood pressure was within normal limits.
The minute the doctor or a nurse places the cuffs on you, your blood pressure skyrockets. Why?
Well, this is what is known in the medical profession as the “White Coat Syndrome.” You fear a bad diagnosis, or painful treatment and that fear and anxiety makes your blood pressure shoot up. You don’t actually have a blood pressure problem, but you get worked up at the sight of a doctor, and this creates the appearance of being hypertensive.
Surprisingly, it appears that many writers are suffering from this phenomenon, a bit differently and without knowing it.
When they see the term “medical” in a job ad, they pass it as fast as they can. They get this nervous reaction, because they do not want to waste their time on reading it; they already know that they are not qualified.
After all, few writers have a background in medicine or extensive training in the healthcare profession. If you had a medical degree, you would be working in a clinic, or a hospital, not sitting next to a laptop.
That term “medical” strikes so much fear in their mind that they not only do not want to attempt to apply for the position, but do not even want to read the qualification requirements.
If these writers had a better understanding of what medical writing is, or would take the time to read the ad, they would realize that they are definitely able to fill the position advertised and would be earning a nice income, as medical writers do.
The Demand for Medical Writers
The demand for medical writers grows exponentially on an almost daily basis. One reason for this is the increased number of medical trials and studies that are bringing new information to the field.
The scientists and investigators that perform these trials need competent writers who are in control of the English language, know how to research topics, identify and select appropriate references, and understand basic medical terminology.
Basically, they need the writer to take the findings from the research and transform it into a clearly written report or article that the general public can comprehend.
How much of a demand is there? Consider this statistic from CenterWatch.
In 2003 there was an estimated $345 million spent on medical writing. By 2008, just five years later, this amount had doubled, with $694 million spent that year.
This is tremendous growth, and writers who can shake the fear from the word “medical”, can take advantage of this, big time.
Consider the following scenarios:
You attend a medical conference where the result of a clinical research is being presented. You take a small recorder and make a recording of the presentations and discussions. After having the recording transcribed, you compose an article about it that members of the general public could read and understand.
Do you see yourself being able to do this? Of course you do. Anyone who has a little bit of time and adequate writing skills can. If you can do this, it is a start. You could be on your way to earn your worth.
Here is another setup: you receive a copy of a literature reviewing a new drug. The information inside the literature is vital to helping patients understand what the drug can do and what the potential risks are, yet the review is so filled with medical jargon it would be difficult for the average reader to decode it.
You take the literature and rewrite it into an informative and accurate, but understandable post that contains all the information reported in the original article, but now most people understand it without the help of a medical dictionary.
That makes everyone happy, the scientist and/or clinician that conducted the study, the patient/consumer that gets updated about new therapies and you, the medical writer that got paid handsomely for it.
Can you picture yourself in these situations? If you are competent at handling the English language, I do not see any problem for you in handling this opportunity. As you can see, you have what it takes to be a medical writer, even if you have never used the term to describe yourself.
So, What are the Most Important Skills Medical Writers Need
If this discussion of medical writing has piqued your interest, then consider the basic skills necessary to become a medical writer. These include:
- Ability to write, and preferably, write well: Medical writers are, more than anything, writers. Communicating clearly is of utmost importance to succeed in medical writing. If you have the ability to write well, you can gain most of the other skills for this profession, either via education and/or through work practice.
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- Ability to research topics through databases.
Medical writers often have to research in medical journals and medical websites, such as PubMed or Micromedex. Strong research skills are very helpful in this field.
- Ability to identify the appropriate articles as your reference.
Following completing your research, an important skill is to identify the appropriate, relevant articles as the references and resources for your article. This function on the first glance seems easy, but you need to be careful and vigilant.
We will be teaching this skill soon as a home-study program; if you subscribe to our newsletter you will learn about the details early enough to secure a seat.
There are lists of things that need to be identified in an article before placing the article into the “select” pile. You need to have information about the author and other members of the study group, the article reports on; you need sufficient details and background information about the study itself, and you even need to identify the locations where the study was conducted.
This is not a comprehensive list, but I wanted to give you a feel for the extensive details needed for an article to be placed in the “select” file. Even then, the select file is usually reviewed again and some of the contents maybe dropped from the group, after the second look.
It is quite a complex undertaking that cannot be taken lightly. I would say, this course should be on the top of the list of anyone interested to be able to accept medical writing projects.
- Basic medical understanding.
- I guess, that is a no brainer? Although you do not need to be a doctor and not even a nurse, you do need to understand medical terminology in order to interpret the reports you will hear or read. If you lack this basic understanding, you could either arm yourself with the appropriate reference books and/or take a mini-course in medical terminology. (which is another course we are preparing). If you decide to register to one of our programs or purchase a guidebook, you automatically become our member with all the privileges. We will be available to you via e-mail communication forever.
As you can see, most skills you either already have and those that you maybe missing can be easily learned. So, if you aren’t currently working as a medical writer, you are missing out on the highest paid work in the writing industry, and without a good reason.
It is not to say that you could accept every project that may come your way in the course of your career; there are projects that you must have skills that most writers do not have. You just need to differentiate projects and recognize your strengths and weaknesses.
How to Sell Yourself as a Medical Writer
The challenge, then, is not in the writing, but rather in selling yourself as a “medical writer.” You have the skills to do this, and the demand for your skills is out there, but you need the tools to apply for those jobs with confidence.
This is another area that we can help. We will be offering various mini-courses that you can complete in your home, at your own pace. We’ll help you craft a resume that highlights your medical writing abilities, and even assist you in writing a few medical pieces for your portfolio. At the completion of your coaching program, with us, you will feel confident to call yourself a medical writer.