The Medical Writer: A Complete Guide

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In the arena of healthcare, a competent medical writer acts as a vital translator, simplifying complex medical concepts. They serve as a link connecting medical professionals and the general public. Ensuring that health sector information is not just accurate but also accessible and understandable.

The Medical Writer

Medical Writer

A proficient health writer has an adequate knowledge of medical, scientific, and health terms along with their concepts. They are equipped with analytical writing and reading skills. These professionals translate information in a variety of formats for different audiences.

Hailing from different backgrounds, they contribute their expertise in various sectors.


There is no formal degree for entering into medical writing. Many healthcare writers come from various backgrounds as: 

  • University Graduates: Biology, biotechnology, pharmacy, or journalism. 
  • Clinicians: Former clinicians who transitioned into writing roles. 
  • Other Professionals: Nurses, dietitians, and physical therapists. 

Role of a Healthcare Writer

Medical writers are the architects of medical communication. They:

  • Bridge Knowledge Gap 
  • Ensure Compliance/Accuracy 
  • Facilitate Scientific Discourse 
  • Foster Collaboration 
  • Write, Proofread, and Edit 

Salary Range

The salary of medical communicators can vary based on location, experience, education, and the specific industry they work in. On average, in the United States, health journalists can earn between $60000 and $100,000 annually. You may take a look at the compensation salary survey below: 

Healthcare Writer I Salaries by Percentile in US 
10th Percentile I Salary  $47,040   August 27, 2023  
25th Percentile I Salary  $57,679 
50th Percentile I Salary $69,366 
75th Percentile I Salary $77,023 
90th Percentile I Salary $83,994 
Based on HR-reported data: a national average with a geographic differential 


Types of Work

A Women Medical Writer doing clinical research

Medical content writer’s work is associated with communicating essential and complex medical knowledge in various sectors. Their contributions can be found in the medical community.

Some common types of work that a health-care writer produces: 

Health Organizations and Industries

  • Health policy documents 
  • Grant applications and proposals 
  • Grant proposals and compelling narrative documents 

Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Industry

  • Pharmacovigilance documents 
  • Safety reports, risk management plans, Periodic Safety Update Reports (PSURs) 
  • Clinical trial publications/protocol 
  • New Drug Applications (NDAs) 
  • Biologics License Applications (BLAs) 
  • Investigational New Drug Applications (INDs). 
  • Sales training documents 

Research Organizations

  • Research articles 
  • Abstracts for medical journals and conferences 
  • Clinical research publications 
  • Case studies, case reports, investigator brochures 
  • Clinical trial publications/protocol 
  • Consent forms and participants’ information 

Regulatory Documents

  • Advisory board summaries 
  • Regulatory reports, including FDA submissions 
  • Clinical data and summaries 
  • Annual safety and risk management reports 
  • Post-marketing reports 
  • Consumer medicine and product information 

Medical Publication Industry

  • Updated healthcare manuals 
  • Medical/scientific journals 
  • Proofreading manuscripts 
  • Copyediting 
  • Health education materials 
  • Medical textbooks 

Healthcare Journalism

  • Health-care news articles 
  • Breakthroughs, health trends, policies 
  • Newspaper and magazine articles 
  • Advertisements for pharmaceuticals, devices, and other health/medical products 

Medical Marketing

  • Health promotional content
  • Social media content
  • Blog posts, podcasts, transcripts, patient stories 
  • Training manuals and e-learning modules 
  • Slide presentations for medical conferences 
  • Poster presentations for medical conferences 


Some medical communicators may also work independently as freelancers. They work for various clients from different sectors. Work nature is solely based on their expertise and interests. 

Who Hires a Healthcare Content Writer?

With an increased demand, pharmaceutical companies are developing a range of new drugs, medical devices, and diagnostic tools. The need to meet regulatory and insurance requirements increased to relay medical and consumer information. It produces greater opportunities for a medical journalist.

A variety of employers from different highest-paying health sectors, reach out to medical content creators. There are different communication styles and needs for a multitude of audiences. These may include: 

  • Biotechnology companies  
  • Clinical research organizations (CROs) 
  • Health organizations, associations, and industries 
  • Medical educational institutes 
  • Medical education companies 
  • Associations and professional healthcare societies 
  • Authors and investigators 
  • Medical journals 
  • News outlets for medical journalism 
  • Medical device/product companies 
  • Pharmaceutical companies 
  • Regulatory authorities 
  • Medical book publishers 
  • Government medical agencies 

How to Become a Health Communicator?

How to become a Medical Writer

Health-care writers come from a variety of backgrounds, either educational or professional. Although they come from different settings, they must possess some shared traits and interests.

Medical writers have a common interest in both science and writing. They also have a clear understanding of medical concepts and knowledge. 

Certifications work as additional credentials. It demonstrates your knowledge and proficiency in medical communication. Ways to become a healthcare journalist are described: 

Choose a Path

Becoming a health writer can be specified and crucial. Due to the number of organizations and the diverse nature of work, there are plenty of options. You can identify the work type that you’d like to specialize in. Knowing your interests before pursuing jobs can help you establish a more focused professional direction.  

To choose the right path, reflect on your strengths and expertise with prior experience as well.  

Consider Taking Specialized Courses

There is no formal degree for becoming a health communication writer. Whereas you can find several educational courses targeting medical journalists. Such courses focus on writing and editing. They also cover topics of your interests such as manuscript writing, healthcare articles, and writing for specific audiences. 

Many of these also issue certificates that enhance the chances of your candidacy. 

Read Medical Writing

To build your writing skills, familiarizing yourself with high-quality writing is one of the best ways. Give a read to your chosen path as much as you can. Familiarity with the content in your chosen specialty exposes you to current trends and updated knowledge.

You must acknowledge your essential skill set. Improve your writing skills which include basic grammar and usage, sentence structure, punctuation, medical terminology, and statistics with visual representation.  

Build a Portfolio

A portfolio demonstrates what you’re capable of through a collection of sample work. Start by writing about your chosen niche. You could also try to sell and publish your article; it would ultimately improve your resume.  

Join a Professional Association

While exploring the health writing profession, you must become aware of the available sources you have. Plenty of organizations offer opportunities to new or experienced medical communicators and a wealth of professional development resources. It helps you throughout an evolving career.  

Network with Other Medical Journalists

Although there are several opportunities available out there. It is important to realize that it can be a difficult field to explore. Networking is a crucial part of success along the way as a medical writer.

Make sure to connect with other medical content writers in your area and across the globe. It doesn’t only provide informal learning, but statistics say that 85% of people found their current position through networking.  

Expand your Expertise

Expanding your expertise will keep you updated regarding the ongoing changes in policies and demand in chosen areas. To augment your proficiency, you need to learn quality English. You may attend events, conferences and read writing pieces from different specialty creators.

You may also reach out to members of your professional network for guidance about your expertise in specific topics. 

Skills and Requirements

  • A medical writer must foster these key skills: 

Scientific Literacy

  • Medical and scientific concepts 
  • Convey accurate information 
  • Literature review 

Writing Proficiency

  • Exceptional writing skills 
  • Clear, concise, and engaging content. 

Strong Research Skills

  • Information from reputable sources 
  • Stay updated on medical advancements. 

Analytical Skills

  • Visual representation 
  • Interpretation of research data 
  • Statistics 


  • Edit and proofread documents 
  • Accuracy and coherence. 

Legal Knowledge:

  • Ethical principles and legal implication knowledge 
  • Healthcare communities and publications information 

Publication Ethics and Guidelines 

Health writer’s work is crucial for health sectors and regulatory bodies. To ensure quality content, a professional medical content writer must follow the guidelines.  

Some recommendations and guidelines are set by regulatory authorities for a professional medical communicator to follow. 


In essence, a medical writer serves as a linchpin connecting health/medical discoveries to those in need. They work in translating complex medical and scientific information into accessible and accurate content for various stakeholders. The professionals, regulatory bodies, patients, and the general public, all can get information regarding medical knowledge. Their work helps disseminate knowledge, ensure patient safety, and advance medical research and practice.

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