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Freelance Medical Writing

Dr. Nicola Parry

Dr. Nicola Parry

A guest post by Dr Nicola Parry who also identified the seed pod.

I’m a freelance writer with a niche.

Anyone who is successful in freelance writing will tell you that although there are many ways to break into this field, one good method involves writing about what you know. It certainly makes writing much easier, and can get you off to a great start in freelancing.

Although I’m a veterinarian by training, I have 18 years of varied, educational and professional scientific experiences, and I apply this combination of knowledge and skills to my role as a freelance medical writer.

What is a Medical Writer?

In general terms, medical writers play an integral role in the communication of medical and scientific information to different audiences.

Whilst many have a strong educational or professional background in science, there are also many extremely successful medical writers who do not have their origins in science, but instead in other fields such as journalism or English.

Types of Medical Writing

The field of medical writing is a broad one, but in a nutshell, it comprises two main categories:

  • Regulatory writing: This involves the creation of documents that are required by
  • regulatory agencies in the process of approving new drugs and medical devices.

Educational writing: This is further divided, according to the intended audience. Some writers specialize in preparing documents about drugs, medical devices, or health articles for a general audience, or even writing health-related news reports for television or radio. In these instances, the writer must be able to interpret scientific information, and subsequently deliver it in a language that non-scientists can understand. Others, however, write for more specific, and often academic, audiences typically creating documents for medical professionals. Such documents are varied but may include journal articles, conference presentations, literature for new drugs, medical textbook chapters, and materials for continuing medical education (CME), to name a few.

Not too many people tend to actually start out their careers wanting to work in medical writing, but rather most seem to fall into it for any of a number of reasons. I definitely fit into the latter category! My specialty area lies in the educational branch of the medical writing field, and in particular in the writing and editing proofreading, copyediting and substantive editing of articles for scientific publication, as well as the preparation of CME materials.  I have, however, also written web-based articles on various aspects of veterinary medicine, pet health, and pet care. Science is my professional passion, and I especially enjoy being able to communicate it to all varieties of audience – from the pet owner to the cancer research scientist.

All in all, medical writing not only represents a great career for suitably qualified individuals, but it additionally provides opportunities for an interesting, and in-demand, freelance writing niche.

What about you – do you have a niche?

If you think medical writing might be the niche for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I’ll be very happy to help answer any questions you might have.

Dr Nicola Parry is a freelance medical writer and medical editor in Boston. Her website is www.bioscientificediting.com and her blog is http://bioscientificediting.wordpress.com/

Two newsletters:
Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • It was interesting to learn that not many people intend to work in medical writing but somehow fall into it. My friend has been working on a presentation for a medical conference lately but has been having some trouble with the slides. She might benefit from hiring a professional to help her out with getting her message across!

    • Yes, it’s surprising how often a professional writer can sort things like presentations out.

  • Ahaa, its good discussion about this post here at this
    website, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

  • Nikki S.

    Hi Nicky, great article. I am also a nurse who has turned full time freelancer in the last year. Where do you advise people to search for work in the medical writing arena? I am in Tennessee and find that there is not much work locally for a writer in my area, however I have found work and been published via several of the large internet sites. My passion lies in drug addiction and recovery, and again it seems hard to find a place to break in as a writer. Any help would be greatly appreciated. And as a theme here, I am also a previous Dental Assistant and have looked to write a couple dental health articles as well.

    • Hi Nikki, thanks for dropping by! Shoot me an email if you get a chance – that way I can send you a more thorough reply – I can’t seem to link to “you” from your name above. Thanks!

  • Hi Cathy! Thanks for joining in – it’s a privilege for me to be here, Anne has been so kind, sweet and gracious in having me drop in on her site. Your niche of healthcare insurance sounds intriguing – kind of a niche within a niche! So interesting how you were a hygienist in your former life too – and that reminds me, I have to visit mine next week, hehe! And I loved the pun too…..

  • Hi Cathy! Thanks for stopping by. I am privileged to be here, Anne was very sweet and kind to invite me to share my scribbling on her site. Your healthcare & insurance niche sounds very interesting – kind of a niche within a niche even! Love the dental niche too – that’s fascinating that you were a hygienist in a former life (that reminds me, I’ll be visiting mine next week!). Nice pun too, hehe!

  • I am a nurse and freelance writer. I tend to look for assignments in the nursing field but medical writing would be in the same arena. Thanks for the post. I may branch outside of my comfort zone when looking for assignments.

    • Getting outside comfort zones is often a good idea.

    • Hi Terri, I agree with Anne – definitely branch out a bit. I bet once you do, you will likely find that you can stretch quite far without even being too uncomfortable! I sometimes see job postings for companies looking for professionals to edit/write exam MCQs for the nursing world/EMTs etc, so something like that might be another area where you can apply your experience.

  • Hey Nicky: Great to see you over at one of my favorite people’s site! 🙂

    I wouldn’t call my niche medical writing, although I have certainly done education type writing over at my health care blog and for some clients. I do specialize in the healthcare and insurance industry – like employee benefits, corporate wellness programs and marketing for healthcare companies.

    Interestingly (at least to me) 🙂 I recently have gotten work in a former field of mine – the dental industry. In a former life, I was a dental hygienist. It seems we just don’t get away from our roots – bad, bad pun. 🙂

    Nice to see you on Anne’s blog, Nicky-continued success!

    • bad puns appreciated here Cathy – thanks ;_

    • Hi Cathy! Thanks for stopping by – I am privileged to be here. Anne has been so kind, gracious and sweet in allowing me to leave my scribbles on her site. Your healthcare insurance writing sounds intriguing – kind of a niche within a niche! Loved hearing how you were a hygienist in a former life too – that reminds me, I have to visit mine next week! Loved the pun too, hehe!

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