I get one question repeatedly from new medical writers wanting to be trained. They are often not sure of what direction they want to take, so they ask: “Should I take a lot of medical writing courses and learn everything, or should I specialize in a specific type of medical writing?” It’s really two questions, and let me separate them for you. The first question is, “What kind of training should I take?” The second question is, “Should I be a specialist or generalist?”
Both are good questions, and they are two questions, not one.
My simple and I hope memorable advice is:
Train Broadly, Write Specifically.
When employers or companies look for medical writers, they typically want someone for a specific job, or a specific type of medical writing. They like to hire and work with specialists – people who know the particular field, who are familiar with the literature and practice around specific ailments, populations, pharmaceuticals, or devices. Everyone wants someone who knows what they are talking about, in order to get the most bang for the buck out of an author.
So, when you are presenting yourself for work, it’s best to be the specialist who really knows what they are talking about.
Now, of course you can have specialties in a number of different areas. It’s good to do that. That way you can have broader appeal to potential employers or buyers of your content. But they are only interested in the specialty relevant to THEM. Present yourself through your payer’s eyes. Be the specialist THEY want.
Now, with regard to training, think about training broadly.
There are about 7 different kinds of medical writing:
Consumer Health Writing
Abstracts and Posters
Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Scientific Journal Writing
Continuing Medical Education (CME) Writing
You can be well known in one or two kinds. But you should train broadly.
That means Abstract and Poster Writing, and Biostatistics and Epidemiology skills are broadly applicable to Consumer Health Writing, Scientific Journal Writing, CME Writing, and Regulatory Writing.
And Scientific Journal Writing, Regulatory Writing and CME Writing require similar discipline in gathering evidence, performing analysis, drawing conclusions, and making recommendations.
So, when you think of getting trained, train broadly. Consider packages of Medical Writing Training.
When you think of getting work, present yourself as the specialist to your potential payer.
Remember this simple advice: Train Broadly. Write Specifically.
A lot of people ask me how to get a FIRST job in medical writing.
I often hear two questions.
The first question is: “I want a job, but they tell me that I need experience. And they won’t give me a job, because they want experience. So, how am I supposed to get experience if they won’t give me a job?”
The second question is: “If I take a Medical Writing Training.com course, how long will it take me to get a job? Can I get a job right away?”
Allow me to share the answers I share with such inquiries.
First, there’s no simple formula of “Do this, and you’ll get a job.” Getting a start as a medical writer, even if you are an MD PhD with years of work experience, takes consistent and never-ending work.
But there are three efforts you can put forward which do work consistently over time. They are easy to remember, and take some work to do.
First: Get Trained. Pick your writing specialty and get trained in that specialty. You need to know the basics, the formats, the protocols, to be able to compete with other candidates.
Second: Get Experience. Write articles for your own portfolio, so you can offer writing samples when asked. Work for free or reduced cost to get started. Take a low level position to get into a company, and then move up. You CAN build your own experience. I’ve heard such great stories from people just like you who don’t wait for a job, but start building their experience and creating their own opportunities.
Third: Get Known. You have to get your profile out there. Build a complete profile with work and education history and photo on the Medical Writing Network. You really need a photo… the photo helps create connection. Participate in social media discussions anywhere. Develop an email list and send emails. Become familiar to people so that you are top of mind when they have a need. Make an impression online. So many recruiters and employers search online first, so be there when they search.
Remember these three imperatives for starting out in medical writing:
They take some work on your part. With time, these efforts pay off!!
Jonathan Marx is Senior Vice President of InQuill Medical Communications, LLC. He is expert in multi-media
education, medical writing, and CME.
Here are five first steps to getting published with your medical writing.
Second, identify those who are most likely to take content from you based on what they already publish. Go WITH the flow of these publications.
Third, read the last 4-5 issues and see what the magazines are focusing on.
Fourth, get the contact information and editorial guidelines for the relevant publications. Make a list for yourself, so that you can get in touch with them.
Fifth, after doing your research, make contact with the publication to discuss what you have to offer in the way of writing based on what THEY want or what direction THEY are going in. Forget what you are researching. You have to go in THEIR direction.
With careful research, you will hopefully choose publications that are a good match for you and are interested in what YOU are already researching and writing. If there is no match, you have to find another publication, or you have to change what you are doing to make a good match.
We’re all about helping medical writers develop their businesses and careers.
With all the social media available these days, it’s my thought that if you’re not present in some way with a profile, comments, and content, displaying who you are and what you think, that you are at significant disadvantage in getting found online for business and career prospects.
Have a full profile on our Medical Writing Network, with a picture, is a good thing. Doing the same on Linked In is also important.
I know many medical writers tend to be on the introverted side. That introvert gift is what makes you a great medical writer… the ability to think, research, organize, and write.
The good news is that being social in social media plays on your given and developed talents. It’s almost ALL writing.
How well can people find YOU on the Internet?
Just posted brief videos on many of our Medical Writing Festival Webinars, offering you an overview of their content. We hope this helps you decide which Webinars will be most valuable to you.
You can buy webinars ala carte, or in packages of 4, or buy the whole Medical Writing Festival.
You get time to watch On Demand Replays, and the more you buy, the cheaper each Webinar.
Check out these videos, to help you decide what’s the best fit for you.
Nancy Monson, consumer health writer and patient educator, reveals the secrets of getting your article received, accepted and published in major consumer health magazines. She also shares how patient education is a great way to get started in health writing.
Join us for “Consumer Health Writing and Patient Education.” Tue 9/13 LIVE, with On Demand Replay.
Just spoke with Tom Lang, our biostatistics presenter. Data show 70% of medical articles have statistical flaws, and challenge the credibility of medical writing and research.
Tom shows how to avoid common statistics errors- and helps us all best communicate our message through the use of statistics.
“Statistical Errors Even You Can Find” – Fri 9/23 LIVE, with On Demand Replay
Early Bird Pricing ends Wed 9/7.
Do you want to find a J-O-B in medical writing? Our presenter George Buckland, partner at Word Recruitment, has a fabulous presentation for us on how he searches for job candidates and how you can best present yourself to a recruiter.
Nancy Monson’s webinar on Consumer Health Writing and Patient Education kicks off the Medical Writing Festival. She’ll be teaching how to develop the pitch, and write the pitch, and pitch the pitch, to large consumer magazines and publications.
Nancy will also be teaching how to create effective patient education materials.
George Buckland, principal of Word Recruitment in London, will be speaking from a recruiter’s perspective. He’ll be sharing how he gets assignments, how he searches for candidates, and how he makes matches between candidates and employers.
All part of the Medical Writing Festival.
Don’t miss this one!! It could help you get your next assignment.
Wednesday, 10/5, 7:00am Pacific LIVE. On Demand REPLAY available.