What does a medical writer do?
Well, depending on the type of medical writer they are, they might fulfill a wide range of roles. So answering that question is not straightforward.
For instance, technical medical writers may regularly be writing application notes and white papers for biotech and pharma companies, whereas a regulatory medical writer may have days full of writing clinical study reports and investigator protocols.
This is something to keep in mind as you read job descriptions. Know what the type of medical writer a job description is looking for and prepare accordingly.
While this is not an exhaustive list, in this post, you’ll learn 30+ activities a medical writer may be involved in depending on their role.
General Medical Writer Tasks
- Conceptualize, write, and edit a broad range of scientific documents that are clear, grammatically correct, technically accurate, internally consistent and that adhere to agreed-upon standards. This could include abstracts, peer-reviewed papers, and posters for publication.
- Manage citation databases to support the company.
- Support graphic designers (external or internal) in developing content assets.
- Prepare, review and edit PowerPoint presentations for team members.
- Update existing content for internal and external clients. (for writers who work in an agency setting)
- Ensure a consistent style of presentation of documents to maintain quality and ease of review.
- Review documents for organization, clarity, scientific standards, and consistency of content, data, and messaging
- Schedule and lead document-related meetings, including pre-planning, developing agenda topics, generating minutes, and appropriate follow-up after meetings to keep the team engaged and to keep the project on track with Sponsor expectations.
- Build and maintain client relationships.
- Participate in briefing and brainstorming meetings.
- Act as a technical-scientific or medical subject matter expert for team members that may not have a scientific background.
- Train team members on how to communicate a scientific idea especially if they don’t have a scientific background but are customer-facing.
- Establish standard operation procedure (SOPs) for writing various document types within the company.
Marketing Medical Writer Tasks
- Interview subject matter experts via phone or video calls.
- Update website copy.
- Optimize website and blog content for search engines.
- Perform content audits.
- Develop documented content strategies to support marketing and sales efforts.
- Prepare content calendars.
- Write social media content.
- Perform SEO research – including keyword, competitor and SERP analysis.
- Perform and review the buyer’s journey in order to create content for individuals at each level of the sales/marketing funnel.
- Write email marketing copy.
Regulatory Medical Writer Tasks
- Plan, write and edit clinical development documents including, clinical protocols, investigator’s brochures, clinical study reports, informed consent forms, safety and efficacy documents, etc.
- Maintain up-to-date knowledge of key regulatory, scientific, and medical topics relevant to drug development, assigned products, and disease/therapeutic areas.
- Ensure that appropriate, up-to-date records are maintained in compliance with SOPs, ICH Guidance, and GCP.
- Identify and suggest changes, modifications, and improvements to the document preparation processes and templates in order to improve quality, efficiency, and productivity.
- Collaborate with program management, clinicians, clinical scientists, biostatisticians, and Pharmacokineticist to interpret study results and ensure study results, narratives, and statistical interpretations are accurately and clearly reflected in relevant documents.
Technical writers may perform many of the general tasks above but are focused on creating highly technical content assets like eBooks, application notes, white papers, manuals, and protocols.
Educational writers may also perform many of the general tasks above but may be focused on writing:
- Test material for various medical/healthcare licensing exams
- Textbook content for various levels of science/medical-based education
- Educational video scripts.
As you can see, what a medical writer does is varied depending on the type of writing they want to do.