Science and Medical Writing

What it is

Explaining science or medical subjects to a wide variety of lay and professional audiences. Science and medical writing overlap, but are also fairly different. Science writers work for a wide variety of organizations including research institutions, nonprofits, journals, and mass media outlets. Medical writers typically work either as in-house writers for Pharma and Biotech companies or for medical education agencies serving that type of client. They produce a range of medical genres including regulatory documentation of clinical studies.

Starting points

A new PhD can begin as a writer or editor at any of the many types of organizations that employ science or medical writers: businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, even universities. The AAAS Mass Media Fellowship is another great starting point.


Science writers and editors can advance to become Managing Editors, bringing increased influence over topics and approaches, and from there to the Director level where there is less writing and more oversight and guidance. Medical writers can advance in similar ways and may have added opportunities to work in federal government on the regulatory side. Both can eventually become freelancers, given enough experience and relationships.


Obviously life scientists have a clear advantage in medical writing, but PhDs in all STEM disciplines can become science or medical writers, given enough demonstrated writing skill.

Personality and outlook

All personality types can be happy and successful in this career. If you find yourself interested in many aspects of science beyond your own research, if you love learning new things, if you have a passion for writing about science, or even if you just simply like to write, science or medical writing might be a good choice for you.


Take on as many writing assignments as possible while in the academy, particularly writing for lay audiences. Write about science for newsletters, magazines, websites, what have you. Blog. Build a portfolio of writing samples of different lengths and topics. Join professional associations in the field and attend local chapter meetings. Seek writing internships on and off-campus.

Real Life Examples