by Michelle Guillemard
Wondering where medical writers find jobs and what steps your colleagues and competitors are taking for professional development?
Health Writer Hub conducted a survey of health and medical writers from around the world, with almost 100 writers from Australia, Europe and America participating.
The results may surprise you – take a look.
Freelance or permanent?
75% are freelancers, 25% employed, and 3% do a combination of both.
Most of us would already be aware that the nature of health and medical writing lends itself to freelancing. A lot of work is project-based and companies prefer to outsource writers than to keep them on staff.
53% of health & medical writers regularly participate in LinkedIn discussions.
Just over half of us see the value in visiting online forums and discussing issues with our colleagues.
Niche or not?
38% of survey respondents write for other industries.
Education, travel, lifestyle, business and corporate were among the industries medical writers cross into.
What steps do health and medical writers take for professional development?
- Conferences 57%
- Journals 45%
- Blogs 32%
- Social media 9%
- Webinars 10%
- Associations 4%
- Books 4%
Now for the big shock
67% of health and medical writers DON’T advertise their services online.
Let’s go back to that first statistic: 75% of respondents are freelancing. Yet 67% don’t advertise online. I’m baffled. Every freelance writer needs a website and social media presence. More and more, recruiters and employers looking for medical writers will rarely give you a second glance if you don’t have an online presence. Still not convinced? Here’s something I wrote on how blogging can enhance your career as a medical writer.
49% are members of professional medical writing associations .
AMWA (both Australia and America) and EMWA were the associations most respondents were members of. Check out Health Writer Hub’s professional health and medical writing associations list if you’re looking to join an association.
Keeping up with the competition
19% do not follow what other health & medical writers are doing online because they are too busy.
The only thing I have to say about this result is that if you’re too busy to keep up with the competition, you are only doing yourself an injustice – and you’re most likely missing out on professional development and work opportunities.
Show me the money
Now for the question we’re all wondering about: where does everyone find work?
- Generic job websites 37%
- Freelance job websites, ie Elance 22%
- Writing associations 25%
- Referrals 59%
What this response tells me is how important networking is. If the majority of us are finding work through referral, it’s vital that we all develop our professional networks so we can be exposed to new opportunities that may never make it to a published job website. A few people even admitted that they never look online – jobs just come to them. So get networking!
Here’s what some of the respondents had to say about their careers:
“I join blogs, purchase books and subscribe to writer’s groups, but I need more individual help. I need to develop skills specifically for the health niche.”
“I want to know what other writers in the niche are doing and how I can increase my skills.”
“Too busy [to follow other health writers]; upon occasion I’ll read something if the blog title really interests me, but I’m more concerned about what’s going on in my specialty from physicians than what medical writers have to say on a variety of topics not specific to my specialty.”
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