Making Science Understandable to the Public – A Career in Medical Writing

Making Science Understandable to the Public – A Career in Medical Writing

Guest post by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM,  founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company.


When you’ve spent a significant amount of time in the life sciences—in school and in the workplace—it can be easy to lose sight of just how complicated science can be, especially to someone without a scientific background. No matter how exciting a particular scientific research finding may be, that excitement could get lost in the shuffle of scientific and technical jargon.

The sheer volume of scientific information now available to the general public seems like a good thing. However, if that information is not written well, it could leave the reader confused and possibly even discouraged from continuing to read and learn about a particular scientific topic. When time is taken to craft well-written scientific content, though, a reader can feel not only more informed about scientific advancements, but also encouraged to learn more about how science applies to their daily lives.

So, who can fill this important role of making complex scientific topics more understandable and applicable to the general public? Medical writers!

Medical writers work in a wide variety of scientific arenas, including medical education and big pharma. News outlets also employ medical writers and task them with disseminating important health- and medicine-related news to the general public; these writers are often challenged with making science understandable without losing the ‘spirit’ or accuracy of the science. This is particularly important in the life sciences, where life-changing advancements in such areas as medical device development and drug development can be quite complex.

Many medical writers have scientific training and come from clinical or research backgrounds, enabling them to navigate across various scientific concepts with a relative amount of ease.

Overall, a medical writer is equipped with the scientific knowledge and writing skills to turn a complicated scientific concept into something that is informative, engaging, and easy to understand.

If you or your company has a need for a medical writer, visit the ‘Employer Resources’ section of the American Medical Writers Association website. If you are interested in becoming a medical writer yourself, AMWA has a ‘New Medical Writer Toolkit’ to help get you started.