January 2, 2024

Can You Build a Medical Writing Career from Scratch with No Experience?

Medical Writing University

One question I get all the time is “How Can I Get Formal Training in Medical Writing?” This question has come to me most frequently from individuals who are seeking to make a career change but have no writing experience or novice writers who want to enter into clinical and regulatory medical writing but may only have science writing experience. Either way, my response is always the same…”Tell me what you’ve been up to and why are you interested in medical writing?”

Hi, my name is Dr. Fatima Larry and I went from being a postdoc to a medical writer and now have over 2 decades of scientific and medical writing experience. My medical writing career went a little something like this…

As a colleague, I did an internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Department of Immunology and wrote 3 manuscripts. I then went on to complete my Ph.D. at Temple University School of Medicine in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology with a focus on tumor immunology and wrote grants and a cancer immunology thesis. Next, I did 2 postdoctoral fellowships, yes, that’s correct, I did a 5-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in both the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Department of Pediatric Endocrinology. During that time, I wrote IRB applications, research proposals, manuscripts, and clinical research trial documents such as informed consent forms and protocols.

Sounds impressive to me…This was my medical writing career start-up (i.e., from scratch).

However, I wanted to enter the field of clinical and regulatory medical writing. So, I decided to get on-the-job training.  Why not? Since I had this awesome writing experience. So, I applied for 250 medical writing positions. I will always remember that number because I got 1 phone screen and zero (0) offers.

My start-from-scratch medical writing career didn’t work.

Fast forward to today, I’ve learned that in order to enter into the field of medical writing (especially clinical and regulatory medical writing) you must have medical writing training and some level of experience to get a toe in the door.

Medical writing is not an easy field to get into and hiring managers are looking for specific candidates with certain skills. For that reason, I don’t recommend you build your medical writing career from scratch using unintentional methods. Here is what I recommend for those who want to make a career transition or novice writers who want to build a career in clinical and regulatory medical writing:

  1. Document what writing means for your career
  2. Document all of the writing you’ve done throughout your career
  3. Understand the various areas of medical writing and which one you like the most
  4. Talk to other medical writers and find out more about medical writing
  5. Build targeted medical writing skills by taking a course in medical writing

At Medical Writing University we understand that it is hard to enter into the field of medical writing but it is doable. Visit https://medicalwritinguniversity.com and learn more about our medical writing courses or register for one of our clinical and regulatory medical writing information sessions to ask questions about medical writing or to learn more about our courses.

Written by Dr. Fatima Larry

Executive Director and Instructor

Medical Writing University

#1 Clinical and Regulatory 6-Week Medical Writing Courses

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