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Top skills you need to be a successful medical writer

Medical communications is an extremely diverse industry and one that’s projected to be worth $3.75 billion by 2026. The opportunities for career progression are plentiful no matter the route you take, whether that’s writing clinical trial training tools, educational material for healthcare professionals (HCP), promotional content for physicians or compiling regulatory submissions. And if that wasn’t varied enough you can also define the scope of your role by choosing to work for a pharma giant, a small agency, or something in between. Naturally, you’ll be passionate about making a difference in improving patient care but what skills do you need to make it as a successful medical writer?

Written communication

It goes without saying that to create medically complex content your written communication needs to be a cut above the rest. But for your content to be immersive, engaging and medically accurate – which are all particularly essential in a medical communications writing job - you’ll need to hone your writing skills. This means attending conferences and reading medical publications on PubMed or other high-level articles that are related to your field. Not only will this improve your written communication and help you become a successful medical writer, but it will also ensure you’re kept abreast of the latest developments.

Resourcefulness

There’s an increasing need for regulatory paperwork and a greater focus on hyper-specialised content, both of which are driving the growth of the medical communication industry. But it’s not just quantity – it’s quality. Life sciences companies aren’t necessarily looking for medical writers who have all the information, but rather those who are resourceful and have the willingness to find the right answer through independent research. Knowing how to research is one of the four things you need to know to get ahead in medical communications.

Relationship-building

70% of leaders agree that relationship skills are critical for success but it’s even more essential for those working in medical communications. For medical writers – and editors - to be successful and help to improve healthcare they need to collaborate with an array of people, including HCPs, key opinion leaders (KOLs), client medical teams and other medical writers. Developing effective partnerships with these professionals will ensure that content is both high-quality and meets the needs and objectives of the client. But as technology continues to change the modern workforce, medical writers must embrace the evolution of communication. Learning how to make meaningful connections using technology will become a skill in its own and the adaptability this demonstrates won’t go unnoticed by hiring managers.

Data literacy

The alternative qualifications you’ll need to become a medical writer mean that there are several career routes you can take, but one skill you'll want on your CV is data literacy. Medical writing isn't simply writing an opinion piece or marketing material. You need to know what you're writing is valid and there will be times when you're required to interpret data and translate the statistical findings in your work. Again, you're not required to know every statistical concept but rather to be comfortable enough with the numbers.

Attention to detail

Depending on which career path you take within medical writing – and there are three main avenues – your day-to-day duties will change. But regardless of the direction you choose, you must be meticulous at every stage, right from the concept to execution of content. In order to translate the complexity within medical material, your writing needs to be clear and free of error, so a high attention to detail is essential.

Forge a career with greater purpose at IQVIA

We’re pushing the boundaries to transform healthcare but to do so we need talented professionals to work in close partnership with our clients. The IQVIA IMA Communications team are looking for more medical writers and medical editors to collaborate with on a wide range of exciting activities. Start your job search by browsing our medical communications jobs.

Found a role that’s right for you? Take a look at our 8 top tips for a successful video interview and prepare to make a lasting impression.
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