4 essential skills to look for when hiring a medical writer

Article written by Paris Taylor, Head of X4 Communications.

Given the important of social distancing to prevent the further spread of coronavirus, online healthcare providers have played a significant role in providing health advice as many people have remained at home, not visiting surgeries or hospitals unless essential.

In the 4 weeks leading up to the 12th April, around 71% of routine consultants were working remotely compared to 25% in the same period last year. Unsurprisingly, as a result the use of healthcare apps has boomed as healthcare providers try to remain virtually to provide answers to the public’s healthcare questions.

Whether you are a big pharma organisation or a smaller healthcare start-up, here are some of the key skills to look for when hiring a medical writer (based on the feedback I have received from some of the fantastic medical writers I have helped find a new position in recent months).

1. Knowledge and credibility

Medical writers today can be life sciences degree holders, allied medicine graduates, Ph.D. qualified scientists, literature and marketing professionals.

Having an in-depth knowledge of the domain they are working in, whether that be life sciences, biotech, healthcare or a specific medical device etc. is essential to help breakdown complex scientific documents and present them to global regulatory agencies.

A formal training at globally reputed organisations adds vital credentials to a medical writer’s profile. The best-valued certifications are by the American Medical Writing Association (AMWA) or the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA).

2. Creativity

I have been speaking with my network of medical writers about how their role has changed since the coronavirus outbreak and have found that the pressure is on to produce new creative concepts that stand in a myriad of communication channels.

For healthcare organisations and pharma companies, hiring medical writers with the ability to clearly and creatively communicate the benefits of their products to their audience is more important than ever. Although medical writing is a technical field, having creative writing skills takes freelance medical writers leaps and bounds above others in terms of opportunities.

3. Analytical

Medical writers analyse huge amounts of data to then translate it into medical documents that can then be shared with a wide audience, this could be anything from an in-depth research paper to a brochure targeted at patients.

Medical writing requires a sharp focus on accuracy, excellent analytical skills and strong attention to detail. When hiring a medical writer ensure you understand their analytical skills, what types of data they have analysed and what tool they have experience using.

4. Self-motivated

When hiring a medical writer, it’s essential they are self-motivated and happy to work independently in a demanding environment. Medical writers delve into large medical and regulatory reports, clinical data and scientific documents which involves a huge amount of focus, motivation and energy.

If you’re looking for support in hiring a medical writer or would like to find out more about some of the fantastic medical writer opportunities available, then please do get in touch by emailing me at

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