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What is a Medical Writer?

What is a Medical Writer?

Medical writing is often discussed as a potential career path for people with a biomedical or health science background, but exactly are they, and what does their job entail?

Medical writers often work for medical communication agencies who primarily work with their pharmaceutical clients to understand medical data (e.g. clinical trial data) and consider how best to use this data to support their clients when discussing their therapy products with different audiences, for example, patients, healthcare professionals, hospital laboratory technicians or the general public.

Often working within a multidisciplinary team of account holders, planners, designers and front-end developers, medical writers play an essential role in delivering accurate and precise ‘medical communications’. A typical day may include receiving clinical trial reports, understanding the aims, objectives, methods, and, importantly, results and conclusions.

Background research will be necessary, as a medical writer may be required to work and specialise on numerous therapy areas at once, with a good knowledge of any competitor treatments. Working one-to-one with clients is often required, building professional and trusting relationships. Other duties may include producing manuscripts, posters, advertising copy and social media outputs (e.g. Tweets), and so you will need a passion for crafting words and a keen eye for spelling and grammar errors.

Medical writing can be a great career choice for people who want to understand disease and help explain how medicines can help those who require them and are passionate about the messages they create.

So how do you get into medical writing? Many medical writers are recruited directly by medical communication agencies following an undergraduate degree, or even a PhD in either biomedical or healthcare science. However, it is acknowledged by many of these agencies that whilst these students have the technical capabilities in terms of understanding medical data sets, at times they lack the synthesising and communication skills that are an integral part of the role.

Manchester Metropolitan University is offering a brand new MSc in Science Communication with the option to specialise in medical writing. The medical writing components of this programme have been developed in conjunction with world-leading medical communications companies and include teaching and input from professionals and industry leaders. This is an innovative, hands-on course delivered by internationally renowned experts in the fields of science communication, medical writing and healthcare science. 


For more information and to apply, visit

Blog post by Dr James Redfern (@DrJamesRedfern;

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The Myths Surrounding Medical Marijuana Busted By Winnipeg Doctor

A doctor from Winnipeg who prescribes medical marijuana says the beliefs that it’s addictive and gateway drug are just some of the myths smoke screening how beneficial it can be.

“We find that there’s no evidence of any addiction. There’s no evidence of people wanting harder drugs or anything else,” said Dr. Paul Daenick, a pain management specialist with CancerCare Manitoba.

Recently, Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan shut down federal regulations restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis.

The judge noted that “many ‘expert’ witnesses were so biased with a belief for or against marijuana — almost religiously — that the court had to approach such evidence with a significant degree of caution.

Daenick said many physicians don’t want anything to do with the drug because it’s illegal. The fact is, Daenick said, medical marijuana can be beneficial for some patients.

Dr. Paul Daenick

Dr. Paul Daenick is a pain management specialist with CancerCare Manitoba. (CBC)

“Most people who are coming to their family doctor are looking for permission to use it for anxiety,” he said.

Daenick also studies the role of cannabinoids — a chemical compound found in marijuana — in patients with advanced cancer.

Humans have cannabinoid receptors in their body that are associated with the pain receptors, he said.

“We can actually decrease the amount of painkillers people are using by using this nabilone,” he said. Nabilone is a man-made form of cannabis.

Some people believe marijuana can assist management with glaucoma, but Daenick said although it helps relieve pressure in the eye, it’s short-acting and may cause damage in the long run. There’s better medication to help with the disease, he said.

Not for everyone

Using medical marijuana isn’t for everyone, Daenick said.

“There are some patients who are going to have great benefit. There are some who are not going to have benefit,” he said.

He screens patients to see if they have previously experienced psychosis and if they have a family history of addiction before he prescribes the drug.

Some doctors shy away from prescribing medical marijuana because they don’t want to spend the time managing a patient’s pain, he said.

“You actually have to spend time and talk to the patient and find out what it is that they’re looking for, and you have to bring them back and assess did this work, did this help, did it make your function better,” he said.

“If it doesn’t do that, then it’s not the drug for you.”cann

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$400,000 Not Enough To Tempt New Doctors To Rural Tokoroa


Tokoroa NZ, is offering $400,000 salary to attract young doctors to rural practice but it doesn’t seem to be enough; lifestyle and clinical networks also matter.

Tokoroa doctor Alan Kenny promised a high income and good opportunities in an advert on a job website yet finds himself baffled by the lack of response.

Dr Kenny might be struggling to find colleagues now, but in a few years, there is some potential for new recruits.

Auckland University medical student Nick said he would consider the opportunity in the future.

“It sort of suits my interests.. like being out in the country. Bit more rural… I think it’s a bit more up my alley in terms of what I’m interested in.”

And another medical student, Aran, said he hates Auckland and loves the mentality in small towns.

“Everyone knows each other.. I grew up in a reasonably small area as well. And my Mrs is from a very small town in Scotland, so I think it would suit both of us.”

But experts say it is the lifestyle that often stops doctors from taking up work in a rural practice and that is something medical student Lucy said she would be concerned about.

“You often will be the only doctor in town, so the workload can be incredible… I’ve heard.

“So yes you might be paid well but you might never have a holiday.”

She said she would have to think about whether her partner could get a job or where their children would get their education.

“But yeah, we just had a lecture this morning about GP work and rural GPs and I think it’s a pretty challenging job.

“But for $400,000 a year, you know, I’d certainly consider it.”

But for some, like Bob, no amount of money would be ever enough.

“I would never consider Tokoroa. Tokoroa has always left a bad taste in my mouth for some reason, I’m not really sure what it is.

“But it would never be a possibility.”

Rural General Practice Network’s deputy chief executive Linda Reynolds said at any one time a quarter of rural medical centres had a vacancy for a GP.

That is partly because of a national shortage of GPs.

She said though an average GP might earn between $145,00 to $185,000 a year, they faced unique challenges.

“The things around isolation, for a GP clinical isolation.. the distance from the base hospital.

“Clinicians who work in rural general practice really do need a broader skill set to be able to work in that sort of environment.”

Pinnacle Midlands Health runs a series of medical centres that span the Central North Island.

The chief executive, John Macaskill-Smith, said one of the challenges is that people no longer want to own their own practice

“People who are coming through are saying, oh actually you know, working 60 hours a week in a small business is pretty tough going.

“Actually I just want to be a doctor.”

Mr Macaskill-Smith’s company runs, the Tokoroa Medical Centre, just next door to Dr Kenny’s.

But he said it has no vacancies after changing the way it works to make it less taxing on GPs.

“So people are saying actually this is less pressured, I don’t have to see 40 or 50 patients a day. I can drop it down to the 20 kind of number.

“But I can still interact with a lot of my patients.. but just do it differently.”

Dr Kenny declined to be interviewed saying he wanted to hear from doctors, not the media.