The Evolution of Medical Writing

October 27, 2020

Medical writers must not only have solid writing skills, but knowledge in the context and terminology of medical topics. At times, they may even need to analyze the logic of a passage.

Examples of medical writing include:

  • Research-based documents and scientific papers
  • Educational materials on new diseases
  • Promotional materials on new drugs or scientific applications
  • Safety narratives
  • Content for websites focused on healthcare, life sciences, etc.
  • Journal abstracts and manuscripts

Now, let’s take a look at the evolution of medical writing, and how medical writing has turned into a profession.

Medical Writing as a Profession

Medical writing today requires some training to show that one is not only a good writer but has the knowledge to present medical information credibly and comply with industry and state and federal regulation. The best medical writers pursue a medical writing certification, a choice that reflects not only training and experience but dedication to the field.

Medical writing has also become an official profession. Writing used to be the responsibility of someone in the company that had the time, but today most companies only hire certified, proven medical writers. Some of these writers undergo up to one year’s training with the American Medical Writers Association. Others attend medical or health communication graduate programs at prestigious schools like Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, and New York University.

Medical Writing as an Outsourced Service

Medical writing is no longer always done in-house, even at clinical research firms or pharmaceutical companies. With more writers trained in the specialization and knowledge of medical writing mistakes to avoid, it makes sense to outsource those needs. Each placement company puts individuals through evaluations to prove their competency as a medical writer. Freelance medical writers must prove their value through their testimonials and work for past clients, as well as tests of their medical and regulatory compliance knowledge.

Medical Writing Is Now a Broad Field with Many Specialties

What began as a highly-specialized discipline in the world of pharmaceuticals and government now encompasses many healthcare fields. Some writers specialize in the surgical instruments niche, others in academia, science journalism, and technical science writing.

Medical writing styles have expanded from a spare delivery of facts to more engaging approaches crafted to draw readers in and keep them reading. While the discipline remains heavily-focused on research-based content, some medical writers work in niche areas that did not exist when medical writing became a discipline.

The Specializations Within Medical Writing

The more specialized a medical writer is, the more in demand he or she becomes. A writer may focus on topics as narrow as analyzing clinical studies, crafting promotional materials for new drugs that hit the market, or putting together documentation on a New Drug application, also known as NDA medical writing.

Some medical writers may even specialize in certain diseases. The field of medical writing in oncology, for example, is a specialization focused on analyses of research in the field of oncology, including pharmacological applications and treatment advancements.

Others find niches in more promotional writing, working with companies around crafting written materials to meet a certain need or pass along a specific company message.

Medical Writers’ Diverse Backgrounds Appeal to Biotech Companies

In addition to specializations within the medical writing world, writers themselves are a diverse group who may not have started as writers. Many come from science- and technology-based careers.

Writers with a chemistry background, for example, may find themselves supporting the medical writing needs of a pharmaceutical company, or crafting evaluative reports of new drug applications. Medical writers do not come from one discipline, often arriving in medical writing after working through several others.

An Emphasis on Clarity and Concise Content

Medical writers exist because research jargon and terminology can difficult to get through for management, marketing, and outside entities like investors and the FDA. Content for healthcare sites, for example, is a growing niche area for medical writers who can create and structure information in digestible ways for a non-scientific audience.

Lean medical writing is also a growing trend. The practice refers to streamlined writing that may link to additional outside sources, focusing on keeping the core content concise and focused on one granular theme or proposition.

How to Find Good Medical Writers

An excellent medical writer provides significant value to a healthcare company by improving clinical trial reporting and compliance with regulations. One study revealed that compliance with medical journal article reporting guidelines nearly doubles when a medical writer is on the team.

ProPharma Group’s team of experienced writers, editors, and reviewers are available to support you with your medical writing services, no matter how simple or complex they may be.


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