Could You Turn Your Medical Knowledge to Copywriting?

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC

There is currently a significant demand for copywriters with deep insights into health care and physicians contemplating a non-clinical business or career change could be perfect.

It's easy to see why so many physicians contemplating a non-clinical business or career change feel a sense of nervous excitement and apprehension about branching out on their own. After all, you've put a ton of time into becoming this highly-trained professional, and being a doctor could be all you've ever known.

Starting your own non-clinical business can be a nerve-wracking experience. Perhaps you want to get out of clinical practice but are still looking for that "perfect" business idea to take to the next level. Thankfully, there are many non-clinical career options that will not only let you get a taste of the world of business, but also allow you to put your medical knowledge to good use.

Let's start by looking at what medical copywriting is, and how you could turn your current knowledge into a new revenue-generating career.

What is medical copywriting?

Copywriting, if you don't already know, is the process of writing words to promote a product or service. Whenever you read an ad anywhere, it's very likely that a copywriter has had a hand in writing it. They are the custodians of the written word in advertising, ensuring that all text content (or copy, as it's known) is accurate, grammatically correct and that it works conceptually. Don't worry if you don't think you're a great fiction writer; being a copywriter is driven by facts (or at least, making those facts sound as appealing as possible).

Medical copywriting is a more technical discipline, sometimes crossing the boundary into technical writing (another writing-based profession). Consider it to be a subset of medical communications. Most medical copywriters spend time describing devices or various effects of medications, possible side effects, chemical composition and more. This factual, non-poetic writing demands concise, clear factual writing and it's easy to see why those with a solid medical background can find success in this field.

How easy is it to transition into medical copywriting?

Pharma is an industry that continues to grow. Unlike others that have been negatively affected by an economic downturn, drug companies have tended to thrive — because people always need drug therapies in one form or another.

This is great news for a medical copywriter or someone looking to enter such a role. There are many medical copywriter needs in the market, so it's likely that demand outstrips supply — someone with the right qualifications and writing experience can step in and take on the role. Even if you don't feel your writing skills are up to scratch, there are employers who would be happy to offer training in exchange for the right knowledge. As a former physician, you should be able to display this level of knowledge with no problem.

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One great example of such a business is copywriting. There is currently a significant demand for copywriters with deep insights into health care — from hospitals and medical start-ups that need website content, to private research firms and surgery insurance firms. All sectors of health care need technical, scientific and promotional materials.