Is Medical Writing All That Different From Regular Writing?

Dear House Rules,

My agency is pitching to a hospital client shortly, and a colleague advised us to hire a medical writer. We already have a full-time general writer – what’s the difference? What’s the advantage, if any, of having a medical writer on our team?


Why Two Writers?

Dear Why Two:

Send that colleague a thank-you gift. If your agency doesn’t specialize in medical and medicine-related accounts (think hospital, pharmaceutical, and medical device), then you need a medical writer on your team for sure. Agencies that service nothing but those types of accounts employ medical writers as a matter of course.

The reason is simple: specialized knowledge. The world of medical terminology can be dense and obscure, and you want someone on your team who “speaks the language.” In addition, there is an institutional knowledge that medical writers have – of medicines and what diseases they treat, of major FDA news, etc. Showing the client you understand

these nuances reassures them that you “get it” and will do good work for their brand.

According to the American Medical Writers Association, medical writers are qualified to develop and edit materials about medicine and health, and know how to gather, organize, interpret, and present information in a way that’s appropriate for the target audience. A medical writer brings three assets to the table:

  • Communications expertise (a high standard of knowledge regarding grammar, spelling, effective communications strategies)
  • Awareness of ethical standards, which is highly important in any medical-related field, especially that of heavily regulated pharmaceuticals
  • Healthcare knowledge – this is that intangible but invaluable experience factor that was mentioned above

You can expect a medical writer to be comfortable preparing the content for:

  • Patient education brochures, news articles, Web content, and books for the general public
  • Journal articles and continuing education monographs for health care professionals
  • Sales training and marketing materials for the pharmaceutical industry

If you anticipate that your agency will be handling a lot of healthcare accounts in the future, then you should certainly think about hiring a full-time medical writer, but be aware that salaries for medical writers are usually higher than for generalists. The good news is that many medical writers work primarily as freelancers, and you can negotiate an appropriate hourly or project rate.

How to find them? That’s the easy part. Check LinkedIn and Facebook (often underestimated as a way to connect with freelancers), ask your colleagues, or contact a professional agency like Xavier Creative House, which has an extensive network of medical writers.

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

Where Healthcare Brands Live®

For more information, contact

Sunny White
Founder & CEO of Xavier Creative House