Before going to our talk on Friday, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what medical writing was. It’s just writing up research…right?
Medical writers spend their time liaising with companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, among others, to provide a whole host of material for their clients and the public alike. From literature reports and clinical trials to brochures and apps, medical writers really have their work cut out!
There are typically two main branches of medical writing: regulatory and educational. Regulatory often involves documents about clinical trials that companies can use to see whether they want to go ahead with the use of a newly developed drug. Educational is more about writing for the public, is more sales based and includes information on a particular drug for doctors and nurses. Other types include journalism, marketing, publication and research; all of which need to differ slightly in their style of writing.
For scientific information to reach, and be understood by, a wider audience it must be presented and structured correctly. However, as demand for information increases, the enigmatic concept of ‘ghost-writing’ may come into play. This is when a company pays a medical writer to prepare a set of documents and then gives either themselves or other scientists the credit, without acknowledging the writer. Fair?
I don’t know what it was about Dr Klein’s talk, but I wasn’t totally sold on a career in medical writing…the pharmaceutical industry seems a bit too big and scary!