Regardless of the industry, great writers have become essential for boosting conversions or improving your company’s credibility. This rings true for medical companies, as experienced writers are hired to produce web copies, newsletters, promotional material, educational articles, and contributions to medical journals.
Most organizations can benefit from hiring a writer to produce these materials, so many are going to look towards the freelance market. But trying to find the ideal writer who is academically and professionally qualified to produce documents on an organization’s behalf is much easier said than done.
Here are several key factors to consider when looking for the right freelance medical writer.
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Freelance Medical Writer Hiring Tips
Don’t look for just any freelance writer
It goes without saying that medicine is a complex field made up of thousands of professionals working on some of the world’s most complex health issues every year. Producing a credible article on any topic within this profession requires reliable sources, proper citation techniques, and keen knowledge of the subject matter.
These types of knowledge can only really be obtained through actual experience in the medical or healthcare industry. Although a writer inexperienced in medicine can hypothetically produce a well-written piece, it might be unreasonable to hire a regular freelance writer for articles on complex medical topics.
Thus, look for writers with demonstrated medical experience – indicated by their medical degrees or publications. They can often be reached through various websites designed to connect medical writers and potential clients.
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Find the right job board
Once you’ve identified the type of writer you’re looking for, it’s important to find the right channels with which to find the ideal candidate. You’re not likely to find the best fit on typical job boards such as UpWork, ProBlogger or Media Bistro, so instead branch out to freelance sites specialized for medical writers.
One shining example of this model is American Medical Writers Association, the leading professional organization for writers, editors, and communicators of medical information. AMWA provides educational resources, articles, and most of all, a network of qualified professional medical writers looking to offer their services. Although AMWA charges a membership fee for their services, it is likely a worthwhile investment for finding the right freelance writer for your next project.
Other sites such as Kolab Tree host job boards full of experienced medical writers. These websites allow clients to view their experiences and publications similar to a more traditional job board.
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Know the topics you want
As you’re looking through job boards and identifying potential candidates, it is important to specify the type of topics you want your freelance writers to write about. As mentioned before, the medical profession is an expansive field with many professionals who are specializing in specific topics and niches.
With that being said, medical writing can be crudely divided into three topics: regulatory, promotional, and educational. Regulatory is highly scientific and often involves documents that are sent to federal agencies as studies. Promotional pieces serve as advertising or promotions for a drug, intervention, or medical service. Educational pieces are often created for educating healthcare professionals or the public about a specific topic.
Although that list is hardly all-encompassing, it narrows down the type of materials you want your writer to produce. It focuses the hiring process while also ensuring that the writer that you end up hiring can reliably deliver your desired content.
Review published work
Hiring a freelance writer for an organization is different from hiring for other positions. In the medical field, that distinction becomes that much clearer. Reviewing a writer’s published work will help you gauge whether they have the proper writing skills and appropriate knowledge on a certain topic.
Some job boards link freelance writers’ past work and publications on their profiles. If that is not available, you can request those same items from the candidates during the application process. Searching their names on Google to find related articles and publications is also another method.
When reviewing a candidate's past work, check for plagiarism and spelling errors. If their work is well-researched and expertly written according to your standards, those are signs of a good writer.
Ask the right questions
Once you’ve identified a freelance medical writer with impressive writing samples, an interview is needed to determine whether they’re a good fit for your organization. Because your candidates should ideally meet the criteria as both solid writers and knowledgeable medical professionals, it may be advantageous to draft two different sets of questions.
General freelance writing questions
You can ask a few general writing questions to get a feel for your candidate’s abilities and their work cycles. These questions can include:
- What kinds of topics do you like to write about?
- How many articles/words are you comfortable writing per day?
- What does your work schedule look like?
- How do you handle multiple projects at once?
- What is your experience with working under tight deadlines?
- Do you have any ideas or suggestions for our organization?
Although a candidate’s qualifications can be enticing, it is important to determine whether their personality and availability makes them the right candidate for your organization.
Freelance medical writer hiring questions
Once you’ve gotten an idea of how your candidates’ writing abilities and work ethic, you can start getting into the nitty gritty. Start asking them about their specific experiences and capabilities with writing medical literature. These questions can include:
- What is your professional background with writing for the medical industry?
- Have you completed any medical writing training or medical writing courses?
- What is your overall educational background with medicine or healthcare?
- Medical writing and medicine in general is a broad subject – what specific subjects are you most knowledgeable and experienced in writing about?
- Share an experience where you had to gather information from multiple medical sources. How did you determine which were most relevant?
- What do you know about [specific medical field or subject]?
These questions will give you a better sense of a candidate’s background and overall abilities. By getting a better understanding of their specific qualifications, you can decide whether or not they align with your medical writing needs. Freelance writers are not cheap, so make sure you have a strong list of questions that will point you to the right candidate.
How much does a freelance medical writer cost?
The cost of hiring a freelance medical writer can vary depending on years of experience, education, and even geography. According to a 2015 ANWA survey, about 60% of medical freelancers charged by the hour, while others charged by project, word, or a mix of hours and words.
Average hourly rates for freelance writers ran at around $112, and many writers had at least 6 years of medical experience before they took up freelancing. Physician freelance medical writers, or writers who have experience as practicing physicians, can earn from $100 to $150 an hour due to their industry expertise.
However, sites such as the aforementioned Kolab Tree connect clients with medical and scientific writers charging less by the hour, and allow users to filter potential candidates by price. These hourly rates are generally concurrent with the $100+ rates, but freelancers charging around $50 are also widely available.
Navigating this industry can seem difficult, but there are still thousands of writers who are willing to provide their medical and writing expertise for clients. Knowing where to look and specifying what services you want can help you connect with the right candidate, and even grow a long-lasting network with reliable professionals.
For the top freelance medical writers, we recommend WriterAccess. They have the largest database of writers in the world, including experienced and screened health and medical freelancers. We've evaluate their blog writing platform in detail and have written a full review here. Use the tips here to vet potential candidates and get partnered with a professional that can deliver quality work that meets your specific project parameters and voice while conveying accurate health information.