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Any medical writers here?

(8 Posts)
SilverSixpence Tue 14-Jan-14 23:02:57

I am looking at changing career from GP to medical writer, but don't really know where to start - do I need to get some experience before applying for jobs, and if so how would I go about doing that?

peejoc Sat 25-Jan-14 22:34:35

I have been a medical writer for 15 years (freelance for the last 10 years) mainly in the area of publications and medical education (some writers also specialize in regulatory documentation and clinical trial reports). I had been a postdoctoral researcher in pharmacology up to that point.

You don't need experience to apply for jobs, but it does mean that you will start nearer the bottom of the ladder (although progression can be relatively quick, especially if you are an MD, PhD or BPharm). Your pay is likely to be considerably less than a GP salary (at least in the beginning). Also, most first jobs would most likely be office based (only more experienced writers tend to have the option to work from home).

There are loads of jobs advertised on the web by medical communications companies, clinical research organizations and recruitment agencies, so just send off your CV (even if there is no job advertised, consider a speculative one, if it is a company you like the look of - that is what I did). You may get sent a writing test to do at home, and if they like the look of it, then they will probably ask you in for interview. Good writers are in high demand, so if you show any aptitude for it, then you stand a very good chance.

If you want to work freelance from home, then you will probably need to have a few of years of experience before anyone will give you any jobs. It's possible that someone might give you a chance straight away, but unlikely, as freelance work tends to evolve from the extended networks you build up when working for a company. Once you get established, though, it can be quite lucrative, and you can charge in the region of £400 per day, if you are any good.

Anyway, let me know if you need any more info (send me a PM, if you like).


SilverSixpence Wed 29-Jan-14 18:20:59

Thanks Peejoc that is really helpful! I have sent my CV off to a couple of places but not heard anything. Would I be better off calling one of the agencies? I don't mind working in an office rather than freelance in fact it would probably be better for the time being. I am more interested in medical education than research but am open to trying anything.

peejoc Fri 31-Jan-14 17:43:55

Personally, I wouldn't call. I think that e-mail communication is probably more suitable when dealing directly with medical communications agencies at this stage.

However, I would recommend speaking directly to some of the recruitment agencies that specialize in the pharma industry (an old colleague of mine now runs one and I can put you in touch, if you like). Many of them advertise positions through websites such as, which is also a good place to start.

One issue with office-based positions is that most of the companies are based in and around London (although there are a couple of other hotspots around Manchester and Oxford).

JennyWren Wed 12-Feb-14 15:15:11

I'm also a medical writer - now freelance although I worked in med comms agencies for about six years. I would suggest that you call some specialist recruiters for a chat, but also look at agencies based where you would like to work and ask - good medical writers are hard to find and you would then be on their radar even if they don't have an advertised job. I'd also recommend that you check out the Network Pharma site: - as well as lots of info for aspiring medical writers it has a handy map of med comms agencies...

JennyWren Wed 12-Feb-14 15:19:12

Silversixpence - I hope that you don't mind my highjacking your thread just for a minute? Peejoc - do you have professional indemnity insurance? If so, who is it with? A (hopefully) new client needs me to have it, but I'm not sure who to approach, or what sort of cost to expect.

vixbea Thu 13-Feb-14 11:33:41

Im in the same position as you. Another person you might find helpful is Karen Kent who is now specialising in helping people get their entry level job in MedComms and elsewhere in communications and is well worth chatting to. Her email and web site is at

peejoc Thu 13-Feb-14 22:52:56

Jenny: No, I don't have have professional indemnity insurance. I can't see any situation in which I would need it. I'm not supplying any advice or information directly to the public and it is the pharmaceutical company or doctors that I write for who approve the final content of any projects that I work and they would be the responsible parties. Maybe if I did regulatory writing, it might be more important, but the the same situation would ultimately apply.
vixbea: That's a freaky coincidence. I worked briefly with Karen Kent many years ago when she was at Parexel (we're connected on LinkedIn).

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