Re: Medical/Scientific Writer Certification

Subject: Re: Medical/Scientific Writer Certification
From: "Barbara A. Tokay" <batokay -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 10:37:46 -0400

Kat Nagel wrote:

> I believe the AMWA (American Medical Writers Association) also has a
> certification program. I have a brochure somewhere....
> <snip>

The American Medical Writers Association home page is (phone number is 301-493-0003).

AMWA is the "official" organization for medical writers in the US. It
runs educational programs (continuing professional education courses)
for medical writers at its annual national meeting, and regional
chapters offer educational seminars throughout the year.

There is also a program in medical writing at the Philadelphia College
of Pharmacy and Science.

Most medical writers work for pharmaceutical companies or for contract
research organizations or advertising/communications agencies that serve
this industry. Some medical writers specialize in the preparation of FDA
regulatory documents; others write "continuing education" programs for
physicians and other healthcare professionals.

A good medical writer must have a fairly firm grip on the science
involved in medicine, be familiar with many different classes of drugs,
and understand the drug development process and FDA regulations. It goes
without saying that good writing skills are essential.

The evolution of medical writing has been somewhat similar to what has
been described here for technical writing. There are no "gold" standards
yet, but there is a growing appreciation that medical writing is not
something "I'd do myself if I had the time."

It seems that a sign of "maturity" in a field is a proliferation of
"certification" and "degree" programs. Whether certificates or degrees
make the writer remains to be seen. I have been a medical writer for 15
years and after many years of trying to provide "on-the-job" training
for new medical writers, I am coming to the view that writers are born,
not made!

Barbara Tokay

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