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The career path of a medical writer: results from an international survey

career path

The results of a survey looking at the personal and professional experiences of medical writers by Walker et al., has recently been published in Medical Writing and makes for interesting reading. A summary of the results can be found below.

  • A total of 112 professionals responded to the survey with approximately two thirds based in Europe and one third in the USA. A majority (68%) worked primarily in pharmaceutical writing, 28% in medical devices and 5% were freelancers/consultants.
  • The top three answers to the question “What made you originally consider medical writing as a career” were:
    • Enjoy writing (70%)
    • Fitted degree/previous experience (52%)
    • Wanted a change (45%).
  • Many had a research background but other backgrounds included editorial, teaching and medical marketing.
  • Nearly all respondents (90%) considered a science degree a necessity.
  • A majority of respondents were solely office-based and most worked between 30–50 hours per week.
  • Career prospects and salaries varied widely, with large salary differences between the USA and Europe.
  • When asked about quality of life the positives included variety of work, home working opportunities, flexible working and job security. Negatives included pressure, out of hours working and limited opportunities for part-time working.

The article includes some of the advice offered by respondents to “new recruits or younger self” and provides some useful guidance for everyone involved in medical communications. Perhaps encouragingly for our industry, overall job satisfaction was high and a majority would recommend their job to others.


Summary by Jo Chapman, PhD from Aspire Scientific.


Medical writing

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