Medical writing can be an exciting and fulfilling niche for freelance writers. Many freelancers find themselves drifting in the direction of medical writing after starting out as generalists. After all, so many medical practices and other businesses within the healthcare industry rely on freelance writers to create content for their patients and clients. Through this kind of writing, many freelancers discover their flair for medical writing and find that they enjoy the research and topics more than other kinds of work. Other freelancers become writers with a specific focus on breaking into the field of medical writing, because they have a background in the industry.
Whatever sparks your interest in medical writing, the good news is that you don’t have to be a doctor or otherwise have an educational background or experience in the field—though it certainly can help. What you really need is to focus on a specific set of skills that will help you pitch to and keep clients who need medical content. If you want to break into medical writing, these are the skills that will help you succeed.
Medical writing involves a high level of research, no matter what audience is reading your pieces. If you are writing content for laypeople, you will need to be able to research complex topics and break down your findings in a way that is both easy to understand and engaging. If you are writing content that is geared towards other people within the healthcare industry, then your research will need to be impeccable, and you will need to able to confidently relate information using the appropriate terminology.
Successful medical writers are adept at research and citing researching in the format requested by clients. They are also able to complete research in a timely manner. Keep in mind that you should factor research time into your plan for each medical writing project, in terms of both your timeline and your rates for the assignment.
Understanding of Statistics
This goes hand in hand with research abilities, but medical writing often involves using statistics. Depending on the kinds of pieces you are writing, you may simply need to relay statistics in your pieces. On the other hand, you may have to interpret those statistics and compare them to draw conclusions or support arguments that your clients are trying to make. The need to use statistics depends heavily on the kinds of pieces you are writing. If you are writing for laypeople, you may not need to go in-depth into numbers, but you may be able to interpret statistics and explain them in a non-technical way.
For B2B content and other kinds of medical writing, you may be required to go deeper into statistics and their meaning and to be able to identify flaws with statistical reports. You don’t have to have an educational background in this, but it may help. If you don’t have an understanding with statistics, taking an online course may help to make your resume more attractive to some clients. Keep in mind that part of working with statistics—and with research in general—means being able to recognize legitimate research studies and those that are likely to have flawed results. For example, relying on statistics included in a study that was funded by a group with a financial interest in the results can be problematic. Knowing and judging the sources is an important part of the work you’ll do as a medical writer.
There is no getting around the fact that, as a medical writer, you will need to use medical terminology. This is another area in which the type of writing you are doing has a big impact on the kinds of terminology you will need to use. If you are writing for laypeople, then you will only need to use very basic terminology, since your content will need to be approachable and easy to understand. For other kinds of medical writing, you may need to use very specialized terminology.
If you have an educational background in a medical-related field, then you have a strong advantage to present to clients. After all, you can handle the technical language they will need in their content. If you don’t have a medical background, focus on how you can write informative content for laypeople. This is a good way to get into medical writing without having to use terms that are unfamiliar to you. If you want to advance into other kinds of medical writing, online classes and self-education are helpful ways to build up your knowledge that you can then apply to your writing.
Project Management Skills
All freelance writers need to have project management skills, but they are especially important for freelance medical writers. Medical writers often take on projects in very different areas of their niche with various due dates, multiple people engaged on the clients’ end, and substantial research requirements. Keeping track of all the dates, maintaining carefully cited research, and keeping the requirements of each project and each person involved in each project on task means using a great deal of organization and management skills.
If you’re new to medical writing, it is a good idea to go slowly with the amount of projects you take, so you don’t overwhelm your schedule. It will take some time to get used to the research and to figure out your timelines for this kind of work. Give yourself plenty of room to give projects additional attention until you become more experienced.
Breaking into the field of medical writing is lucrative and rewarding, and Writers Work can help you get there. Our document tool helps you deliver the clean copy that medical clients expect. With our online freelance writing portfolio, you can present your work to clients effectively in this competitive field. To explore our tools and to connect with clients who are looking for freelance writers like you, become a member of Writers Work today with a risk-free 30 day trial!