Working as a medical writer isn’t just about writing

Article written by Paris Taylor, Head of X4 Communications.

Working as a medical writer isn’t just about writing, it’s also highly analytical and requires you to work with large amounts of data, digest it and translate it into a format that can be easily understood by the audience.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorena, who is a freelance medical writer, to discuss the elements she enjoys most about her job, the challenges, and what she looks for in a medical agency.

What attracted you to this career in the first place?

Passion for writing about medical science and the opportunity to work as part of a team on interesting, exciting projects for a wide variety of different audiences. This makes the job varied, enjoyable, satisfying and hugely rewarding. Opportunities for professional development and career progression are virtually endless, and demand is consistently high with plenty of choice.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Working with data. Interpreting, presenting (graphically) and verifying clinical trial data as well as economic data. So, not just text but actual numbers, data spreadsheets, tables and charts, within concise, yet comprehensive and accurate, communications.

What do you think is one of the biggest challenges for a medical writer?

Working as a medical writer can be stressful at times. You may need to work long hours or complete tasks against very tight deadlines. Those who are just starting out may find it difficult to adequately respond to negative feedback. The work of a medical writer is normally reviewed by other people several times before it is finalised. It is important to take any negative feedback graciously and in a constructive way. Nobody is perfect all the times. Plus, negative feedback is a valuable part of the job. It gives you the opportunity to identify your weaknesses and address them, which will set you on the path to excellence.

What do you look for in a medical communications agency?

The human aspect is paramount for me. What I look for, specifically, is a dedicated team of people with a friendly, respectful and supportive attitude, as well as good communication. I prefer an environment in which a writer’s work is appreciated and recognised. Opportunities for developing new skills and being involved in a variety of different projects are also important, to keep the job interesting and stay motivated.

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