Medical Writing is indeed a great career!! But many of us probably are unaware of the two aspects which constitute medical writing namely Marketing & Scientific Medical Writing. This article is an attempt to bring on the subtle differences between the two and make an individual choose between the best career suited to his/ her capabilities.
Let us start as with academic qualifications first. Those who aspire to be scientific medical writers need to have a degree in medicine, life sciences or pharmaceuticals. Some may require a PhD as well. Scientific medical writers have their audience in technical professionals. The kind of work they do involve helping doctors write research articles, reviews and comments on medical topics and write monographs. Many pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organizations & medical devices companies hire scientific medical writers to prepare regulatory documents for submission in regulatory agencies like the FDA for approval of drugs and medical devices. A well organized medical department in a pharmaceutical company, for example, will have multiple responsibilities for a scientific medical writer. Consulting, could be one of them, as clients as well as colleagues within the organization may ask opinions of the medical writer about various regulatory dossier preparation queries, information about a study protocol, quality assurance etc.
Marketing Medical Writers on the other hand are usually equipped with a degree in journalism or other writing degrees. But knowledge of medicine, diseases and physical anatomy is definitely an added advantage. Marketing Medical Writers have their audiences in the general public mostly. They need to write articles about drugs, devices and biologics for general audiences. Marketing Medical writers can be consulted for branding of a product to advertise it effectively in the market. They have to ensure that they minimize clashes arising from different perceptions of the clinicians within the same organization. Their other responsibilities involve avoiding product delays and ensuring the consistent delivery of product messages.
Having described the differences above, it is important to note that in many organizations medical writers find themselves contributing both to scientific as well as marketing writing. Irrespective of being a scientific or a marketing medical writer, all of them need to have a common set of basic skills like a flair for writing, and clarity of presenting their ideas in a clear and concise way. Apart from the above, good interpersonal skills are a mainstay in this profession as writers need to be constantly communicating with people from a range of backgrounds who may be a part of the inter-disciplinary teams.