Medical writers – and translators – (mostly!) are passionate self-aware women and Medcomm geniuses

- March 5, 2019

Welcome to MedCommTalk – a series on medical communication

Interviews from professionals in the medical communications field with real answers to business difficulties.

MedComm Talk will be made out of interviews of professionals, such as medical writers and communication agencies in the medical communication field.

The aim of this series is to gather personal testimonials and opinions about what you actually do in your work. Let’s raise awareness together about medical communication and share the challenges you face in your work.

Medical writers – and translators – (mostly!) are passionate self-aware women and MedComm geniuses

Today, we’ll talk about medical writers’ background. I’ve interviewed 5 medical writers to learn more about how they came to medical writing. Here are their answers:


Out of 5 respondents:

1)    100% are women

2)    40% are or were nurses

3)    100% were not “born” medical writers. They all had or still have different jobs aside from medical writing. This shows that they are capable of constant self-reassessment.

4)    60% said that they would “never look back”, which shows their passion for medical writing.

5)    60% were asked by their employer to perform medical writing duties although they were not hired as medical writers. It shows that before even considering hiring a medical writer, companies look for people that might fit this function in their own staff.

Lisa. M. working in a mid-size Clinical Research Organization:

“I am a nurse who has worked in clinical research for 15 years. I am not a medical writer by title but I have participated in medical writing for clinical protocols and journals for clinical experience.”

Johanna Galyen, Freelance medical writer at Glowing Still:

“I’m slowly switching over from marriage blogging to medical writing. Initially, marriage was my only focus, but I wasn’t able to get any profit from it. So I started to look at using my nursing experience as a way to write for companies. $6,000+ dollars of income later, I realized that maybe I should switch my website over to that as well.”

Kitty W. Freelance writer at a law firm that specializes in medical negligence and personal injury claims

“I have been a freelance writer for 5 years. Two years ago I began working in an entry-level admin role at a medical negligence and personal injury firm. They asked me to create a content-based role to help their marketing strategy after I was put forward for a paralegal role, and my CEO learned from my resume about my background as a journalist.”

A freelance medical writer who wants to remain anonymous

“My original career was as a preclinical bench scientist. I left in the mid-1970s due to a legal dispute that was settled out of court. I was a writer virtually from birth (beginning at the age of 3, I read everything I could get my hands on and began writing short stories and poems a few years later).

So, given my natural interests/skills and my training as a pharmacologist at one of the best medical schools in the country, medical writing seemed a good fit. I relocated to New York City with my first job at a medical advertising agency, and never looked back.”

Jill A. Freelance medical writer since 1995

“PharmD specializing in drug information. Five years of drug information paid for my learning curve with medical writing. In 1995, our resident got a little freelance job that he didn’t have time for. I snapped it up and never looked back.”

It’s interesting to note that there are similar trends in the translation industry:

1) About 70% of translators are women.

2) Many of them have another job alongside translating.

3) Many of them are not “born” translators and come from other industries.

4) Those who remain in the translation industry for longer than a couple of years are passionate about translation.

5) In many cases, companies will just ask one their employees to translate content although it’s not one of their qualifications. They will only look for a “real” translator if they deem the content as important enough. Most of the time, they will look for translation agencies and not for freelance translators. If you would like to learn more about this, I talk about this in one of my blog posts called 3 Reasons Why You Should Change Your Translator Search Strategy.

Are you a medical writer or translator? What’s your background?

Do you know someone who might find this article interesting? Don’t hesitate to forward it to them! Let me know in the comments your thoughts about this important issue, and let’s learn together!

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Post reviewed by Johanna Galyen from Glowing Still

Written by admin