Understanding the health writing industry means keeping up-to-date with the trends, opportunities and issues that impact the medical industry as well as the writing industry.
It also involves being aware of any health OR writing trends that could affect your work, business and career.
Some examples include:
- Communicating about health – for example, a recent study showed the impact of misusing the word ‘breakthrough’ in scientific communications
- Regulatory laws – you’ll need to be aware of current laws, as well as any changes to regulations or legislation
- Lawsuits – legal issues can affect health professionals and publications you may write for
While there are specific medical writing-related issues we need to be aware of, like whether cheap medical outsourcing is a threat to your career, and if health bloggers really should be dishing out health advice, it’s also important for us to follow the broader topics that inform our work.
So if you’re keen to learn more about the health writing industry, here’s some advice to get you started.
Join medical writing associations
Your local medical writing association is the best place to start when it comes to getting to know the industry.
Join it, read their newsletters and attend networking events regularly.
I am the President of the Australasian Medical Writers Association – this is a volunteer position and I was honoured to be awarded this role in August at this year’s annual conference.
Before becoming President I sat on the Executive Committee for 5 years. I, and the other members of the Executive Committee, get no financial benefit from our involvement – we’re involved simply because we’re passionate about our local medical writing industry and we want to ensure it thrives.
I always encourage aspiring medical writers to join their local associations because there is so much to be gained through networking, professional development and annual conferences.
Associations are peak bodies for health and medical writing. They broadcast the industry issues and relevant news you need to be aware of as a health writer. Associations are also a great place to go for networking, events and training.
Here are some of the major associations to get you started:
- American Medical Writers Association
- European Medical Writers Association
- Australasian Medical Writers Association
- Association of Health Care Journalists
- African Health Journalists Association
Be aware of health industry news
As a health writer, you should be aware of what’s happening in health at a local and global level, including:
- Current controversies – eg vaccination, public health, conflicts in key journals
- News – read and watch the news every day and take note of which health stories are featured
- Journals – subscribe to TOCs (table of contents) and keep up-to-date with what the main journals are publishing
Following the health industry helps to ensure your writing work is informed, and it gives you ideas for new content.
Follow the latest writing industry news
As well as keeping up-to-date with the health industry, do your best to keep an eye on the writing industry and any developments in writing-related issues. This includes payment rates, career and employment issues related to writers.
It’s important to know where your industry is heading. You need to know about any issues that may impact your future career development.
Following the latest developments in the writing industry will also help you to stay competitive and involved with the profession.
Stay updated with regulations and laws
Laws and regulations in the medical field change regularly. Follow consumer watchdogs, regulatory bodies and try to keep informed of any changes.
Not knowing the regulations and laws can have huge ramifications for your clients, employers and readers if you write something non-compliant.
Follow news in the medical field
Reading medical industry news for doctors, pharmacists and allied health professionals is very useful.
Some publications are restricted to health professionals, however you should still be able to follow the publication and read the abstracts or outlines to stay informed.
Understanding the issues that are important for doctors will also help if you’re writing content for medical professionals.
How do you stay up-to-date with the health writing industry?