Although a noble goal, venturing into freelance medical writing profession is definitely not an easy career option. However, if you are impeccable in your writing skills, you can use it for helping people around as a freelance medical writer.
As with any job, this career also involves certain requirements that you must meet or obtain in order to secure a job. You want to make sure that you are right for the job and so, we will give you a general overview about the career and the steps required to becoming a freelance medical writer.
Know the Role of a Medical Writer
The basic skill of a professional medical writer is to simplify the complex medical data, information, facts, procedures and jargons into a form that can be understood by a normal, non-technical human brain.
Medical writing is a subcategory of technical writing, where the writer analyses unprocessed medical terms, instructions and functions and puts back together information in simple English language.
As a freelance medical writer, your job would be documenting articles or content related to medical practice, medical procedures, drugs and administrations, medical data, regulatory information, promotional materials, training and educational content and so on.
Ask Yourself: Are You Ready to Make the Switch?
Whatever is your rationale, you have to understand that freelance medical writing career is not a cake walk and thus, if you are making the choice then it should be for the right reasons. If you:
a) love writing
b) have an ambition in the field of medicine and health
c) don’t want the mundane 9 – 6 job or don’t want to work under anyone and
d) if you love freedom and flexibility, then you may consider opting for this profession.
However, there are no quick wins in the field of medical science, including medical writing. But if you stick to it for quite some time, the rewards will astound you.
Deciding the Type of Medical Writing You Want to Focus On
Anyone considering being a freelance medical writer needs to decide on the medical writing type to pursue. According to experts, medical writing can be broadly classified into 3 types: Regulatory, Promotional and Educational. Let us tell you more about the divisions.
- Regulatory – Regulatory medical writer needs immense knowledge and writing capabilities as this job involves writing highly scientific documents that are often submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.
- Promotional –Promotional writers mainly create content for promotional activities or marketing any particular drug, intervention and medical aperture or device.
- Educational – Any writing that focuses on creating materials for health care professionals or general public with the purpose of educating them is categorised under educational medical writing. Creating patient education brochures, content for medical programs etc. fall under this category.
You Need to Educate Yourself – You Have to Commit to Science
Medical science is not poetry that can be cultured by honing your creative skills. It needs practice, instructions and guidance. Therefore, if you want companies to outsource work to you, you need to learn the fundamental things in medical writing.
Your technical understandings should be excellent and above the abilities of the regular employees. As a medical writer, you would be requiring specific training to understand and write about the basic terminologies of the wide ranging health care sector.
A basic degree in science or health related area is great. However, if you don’t possess one, certification course in medical writing training should also do.
A medical writing training course not only provides the necessary education and knowledge but also acts as an open envelop of your resume for clients. However, you have to learn the subject diligently. And, it will definitely take a good amount of time.
You have to invest money as well as time for this particular field. If you intend to talk or write about the subject, you have to be committed in knowing about medicine.
Where to Look for Your Clients – The Doors are Open
Once you decide the type of medical writing you want to pursue, and have the necessary qualifications for the career, the next step is finding the right companies that employ part-time, full-time and freelance medical writers. Different companies purchase or employ different types of writings.
Some of the common avenues that you can probe for work include pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations (CROs), medical institutions, medical communication companies, advertising agencies, health newspaper, magazines and journals, and hospitals.
If you are a newbie in freelancing and have zero experience in medical writing, then we suggest you to start your freelance medical writing career with the educational sector. This type is easy in comparison to regulatory and promotional documenting work.
You can look up online forums like Upwork, Freelancer.com, LinkedIn and Elance.com for projects. You can hone your skills and develop your expertise by writing simple medical articles, brochures, guidebooks etc. And once you have gained adequate expertise, you can dig deeper for bigger clients and higher incentives.
Begin To Promote Your Services
In the freelancing realm, promotion is the key to success. Unlike any other regular business, you won’t be supported by a marketing department who would generate leads and convert those into potential clients. Instead you would be your own boss, your own marketing department and sales person.
You have to create targeted promotional campaigns to reach prospective clients. And the easy, affordable and mostly favoured way to do so is by joining online social networking sites like LinkedIn. Use it as your tool; market your work there; stay constantly in touch with other freelancers; and seek out more clients.
You can also join groups and once you become a member, you can start group discussions as well as respond to queries and ongoing discussions. Provide valuable information and prove your mettle.
Target Big for Higher Payments
You will hardly stumble in your career as a freelance medical writer once you get a tight grip on the market. As a qualified freelancer, your income would soar when you start targeting bigger clients like MNCs, Medical Centres etc.
You will get paid thousands of dollars for writing regulatory documents for government aided companies. Although, medical writing projects are complicated and time consuming, the pay is great and opportunities are immense.