Over the course of my career in medical writing, I’ve worked with two main types of individuals
1) those starting a career in medical writing and
2) those transitioning or advancing their career in medical writing.
Both professionals are valuable to the field of medical writing and face challenges with either entering into the field of medical writing or advancing their profession as a medical writer. Questions that I get asked are “How Can I Enter into Medical Writing with no Writing Experience?” and “How Can I Advance My Medical Career in Medical Writing?”
Well, as a former medical writing business owner and Medical Writing University Instructor, it’s our goal to educate the best medical writing professionals as much as possible. We aim to equip new and emerging medical writers with the skills, knowledge, and ability to succeed in the biotech or pharmaceutical industry. It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out as a medical writer, transitioning to the field of medical writing, or are a mid-level medical writer across the globe, we offer comprehensive and challenging tools to help you reach your medical writing goals. While it is challenging to break into any new career or advance your career, the right knowledge can more efficiently guide your effort and land you the medical writing job or advanced position you desire to have.
Medical Writing University wants to make sure you have everything you need to elevate your clinical and regulatory medical writing career. In this article, we’ll consider the education, experience, and skills necessary to become a Medical Writing Professional and ways to Advance Your Medical Writing Career.
What Formal Education Do I Need?
To attain an entry-level medical writing job (clinical and regulatory medical writer), most positions require an advanced degree (PhD, PharmD, or MD). Those applying to a clinical and regulatory medical role with a bachelor’s degree will likely require significant medical writing experience to be considered competitive applicants. Therefore, having an advanced degree is preferred. Individuals with non-scientific degrees related to English, law, or journalism who demonstrate critical thinking and writing skills are also desirable to hiring managers. However, a degree in the sciences, healthcare, or related fields will make getting that first job much easier and may open the door to more specialized and/or senior roles in the future.
What Experience Do I Need?
It is understood that many entry-level positions ask for prior related experience (clinical research or medical writing). This is because managers want candidates who understand the objectives of clinical research and medical writing. Currently, entry-level positions may ask for one year of experience and prior exposure to science writing projects. More advanced medical writing positions may ask for more years of experience and exposure to complex medical writing projects. It is frustrating when 1) an entry-level role asks for prior experience and 2) an advanced role asks for multiple years of medical writing experience. If you haven’t previously worked in medical writing or if you need to gain more clinical and regulatory document authoring experience there are still plenty of opportunities available for those willing to use some of the strategies discussed below.
How Do I Get More Medical Writing Experience?
Because of the current shortage of skilled medical writing professionals compared with the available work, hiring managers might not be able to find enough candidates with the preferred qualifications to meet business needs. In fact, as a hiring manager trying to offer an entry-level medical writer position is difficult to justify unless you have a plan for training the individual for success within your company. It is vital to have a plan of what you can offer the hiring manager and have in mind strategies that can lead to your success:
Most advanced degreed individuals have a suite of valuable skills. Make sure you elaborate on prior scientific writing experience during interviews.
The Right Coursework:
If you are still working on your advanced degree, currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship, or working to transition into the field of medical writing consider courses or programs that specifically cover hands-on clinical and regulatory medical writing within the realm of clinical research covering ICH/GCP regulation. The right coursework could set you on the path toward a great career before you start your medical writing job.
Certifications, Continuing Education Courses, and Advanced Online Training Programs:
Efficient and cost-effective options include taking a medical writing course, obtaining a professional certification, and online- or onsite-training programs. Many industry groups and organizations within medical writing, clinical research, and regulatory affairs offer professional certifications, medical writing courses, and training programs that can be completed or earned by taking classes, passing tests, completing practical hours, or some combination of these. While the scope of a certification, medical writing course, or training program is usually narrow within a subspecialty, many certifications are well known and respected by hiring managers, and in the right circumstances, could be seen as more relevant and desirable than some much more expensive and time-consuming degrees.
Of note, Medical Writing University proudly offers the first and only internationally and independently operated medical writing course and training program developed specifically for clinical and regulatory medical writing professionals. Due to the small class size, course space is limited and fills quickly. Click here to register for our next information session.
We hope this article has inspired you to take the first steps toward elevating your career as a clinical and regulatory medical writing professional. In some ways initiating and advancing your medical writing career can be the most difficult step, but with the right knowledge, education, experience, and the willingness to take creative initiative, we’re confident your early and ongoing success as a medical writing professional is just within reach.
Written by Fatima Larry PhD
Executive Director and Instructor
Medical Writing University