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Medical Communications - Principal Medical Writer
A medical writer is key member of the editorial team within a medical communications agency. A medical communications agency is tasked by their clients who are usually large pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, healthcare or clinical research organisations to develop communication strategies that will assist in the delivery of effective campaigns.
The role of a medical writer is to write high-quality scientific copy for the wide range of materials that a medical communications agency produces. The scientific and medical information and the language used in these documents written by medical writers will be tailored to suit the target audience, this could be patients, medical sales representatives, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. Documents created by Medical Writers for medical professionals is usually highly scientific but often those intended for patients and the general public will also be written in clear, simple terms with minimal scientific jargon.
Materials include primary papers, Reviews, Education materials, case studies, newsletters, conference materials, websites, slide kits, posters, videos, sales aids.
Medical writers are required to keep updated on new developments within any given scientific field and therapeutic area, being aware of the strategies used by clients competitors and advising.
A senior medical writer will do all of this and may be given the responsibility of mentoring more junior members of the team, liaise regularly with clients, travel globally to attend conferences, advisory boards and standalone meetings.
A principal medical writer will do all of that and in addition may lead an editorial team, consult clients on publication plans and strategy, liaise with the client service and project management teams within the agency and run and/or attend new client pitches.
Skills and Experience required to become a Medical Writer
- Degree in one of the life sciences (ideally PhD)
- Excellent writing skills including the correct use of grammar, punctuation and spelling
- The ability to adapt the language to communicate effectively with a specific target audience
- Understanding of scientific and medical terminology
- Attention to detail
- Good time management, able to meet deadlines
- Good communication & coordination skills, able to work with various stakeholders
- Knowledge of specific therapeutic areas e.g. oncology, diabetes can be beneficial
The demand for medical writers is growing steadily and medical writing can be an excellent career option for Life Sciences graduates. It can be difficult to secure an entry-level Associate Medical Writer (AMW) role, which typically has a salary in the “mid 20s”. Once you have gained some tangible experience in medical writing, especially if you specialise in a highly sought-after therapeutic area, the salary progression for medical writers is very buoyant as you progress to each next phase of your career as a medical writer. People tend to follow a path from Associate Medical Writer to Medical Writer, to Senior Medical Writer, to Principal Writer. The salary bandings for medical writes progress significantly with each step up. Furthermore, there is a lively contract / freelance market for experienced medical writers, for which the daily rates can vary from £250 to £500+ per day.