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MedicalWritersSpeak's podcast

Emma Hitt Nichols interviews freelance medical writers about their work.
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MedicalWritersSpeak's podcast
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Dec 2, 2021

In this week’s episode, I talk about the top ten traits of successful freelance medical writers.

Qualities like having a science background, being detail oriented and having the ability to sit quietly at a computer are a given and not included.

I provide an overview in this week’s podcast and then I’ll be going into detail into each one over the next several weeks.

Here are the top 10 traits as I see them:

  1. Focused on what the client and reader wants and needs
  2. Follows directions
  3. Follows formatting
  4. Responsive
  5. Well versed in AMA style and rules of editing. 
  6. Organized and mindful of time.
  7. Cheerful/forgiving/flexible 
  8. Professional with clients on calls
  9. LinkedIn presence. 
  10. Lifelong learner
  • Find out more information about how to get into freelance medical writing at 6weekcourse.com
  • Does your company need medical writing assistance? visit Nascentmc.com
  • VisualMedComms is a brand new membership where you can learn how to make your medical and scientific communications visually appealing and benefit from incorporating a new set of in-demand skills to offer your clients. visualmedcomms.com

 

Nov 3, 2021

In this episode, I speak to medical writer Kalpana Shankar, PhD, and we talk about all things LinkedIn Marketing.

Talking Points

What’s so special about LinkedIn?    

- Specifically for the professional community and where your potential clients hang out.

- Can create online professional brand and reputation and no one else can mess with it.

- Can show your work directly.

- Helps clients get to know, like, and trust you (and therefore hire you).

- Often top of Google search.

- Be careful how you portray yourself on LinkedIn, and what you comment on.

Setting up your profile

- Lots of courses about how to build a profile on LinkedIn Learning (they should know about this!)

- LinkedIn course on 6-Week Course platform

- Can take days if needed

- Evolves changes of over time

Profile – Headline      

You in one sentence (about 20 words). “Freelance medical writer specializing in oncology and diabetes.”

“freelance medical writer serving the continuing medical education industry.”

Make it specific and clear. It’s your unique selling proposition. Make it click bait.  How do you add value? How do you want to be seen?

Profile – Summary    

This is a bio. Identify who your target audience is. Why should people contact you? Describe benefits “what you can do for clients” not features (eg, all your degrees etc.). Look at those of other medical writers. Don’t be “fake” or “hyped”. Write in first not third person (we all know you wrote it yourself!). Get someone to read your profile.  Must be error free.

Profile – Experience and education    This is your professional CV/resume.

You can omit positions that do not relate to your current career.  Don’t hype things up

What you do. Types of writing.

Do include your clinical/research experience.

Media upload is great for showing samples.

Licenses and certifications Linked in Learning certificates all good.

Profile – Photo and header    

A must have. Convey energy and enthusiasm. Biz causal OK, well groomed. Look like you would for an important client call. Don’t use an old photo or non-professional photos (eg with pets or your Tinder profile), obvious selfies or those with a flash.

Building your Network           

Connect when it makes sense.

- You can import your email address book, but be careful with that.

- Don’t bulk invite—you may get flagged

- When adding connections, send a personal note

- Only connect with people where it makes sense. Know that fake profiles do exist on LinkedIn

Paying it forward--Try to add value before asking for things.

  • Write a recommendation.
  • Offer to introduce someone.
  • Share job posts and updates.
  • Comment on other people’s posts.

Content strategy        

Share industry-related articles and podcasts.  Take a moment to make a comment when you do. Write your own posts that would be helpful to potential clients. Be genuine. People can detect when you are just trying to self-promote.

Writing articles on LinkedIn    
Can replace a blog post. A great way to get info out there. Open to all users. Not for everyone/not necessary.

Check out the 6-Week Course everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business at 6weekcourse.com. There, you can access free content on medical writing. 

Nascent Medical--we can assist with all kinds of medical writing projects. nascentmc.com 

 

Oct 6, 2021

A must listen for any medical writer! In this podcast, I talk to three of our very experienced medical writers who regularly work on review articles. We talk about several aspects of writing review articles, including organizing references, synthesizing information, managing annotations and citations and all the other tasks involved. 

Nascentmc.com a team of highly skilled PhD- and MD-level writers for your educational programs, needs assessments, manuscripts, and more.

https://6weekcourse.com/  Access the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your medical writing business--since 2011, the course has helped hundreds of people transition from being unhappy in a career as a clinician or science post-doc into a lucrative, work-at-home career as a freelance medical writer.

Jun 3, 2021

In this episode, I speak to Jamelah Martin, who has a master’s degree in biomedical sciences and public health. She started looking into medical writing at the suggestion of a friend. Right now, she is working on connecting with other writers, developing her samples, and working on a blog and a podcast, and, oh yes, being a mom to her 4 kids. She hopes to help others, especially mothers and introverts, who want to pivot in their career.  


Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business at 6weekcourse.com. There, you can access free content on medical writing.

May 27, 2021

In this episode, I speak to Jennifer Herrin who is originally from the US but has lived and worked in the UK for the last 10 years. She has a background in nursing, which she parlayed into a degree in technical writing. She then got a staff job as a medical editor, followed by a job in nursing while continuing to write. She now enjoys freelancing while setting her own schedule and working from anywhere.  

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business at 6weekcourse.com. There, you can access free content on medical writing. 

May 20, 2021

In this episode, I delve into the nitty gritty of medical manuscript writing. If you are an experienced medical writer, you probably know most of this, but I hope it serves to reinforce your knowledge. 

-Get up to speed in the subject area.

-Work from a detailed outline that has been approved by the “author(s).”

-Establish the format up front—download author guidelines. Clarify the word count. 

-Understand why the paper is being written.

-Use the basic of clear writing—topic sentences, signpost words. Lead your reader through the piece in a logical order: from the already known to the new information. 

-Be clear about your medical writing role (no analysis, no statistics, no graphics).

-Make sure any data is from the primary source.

-For annotations, it’s best practice to annotate within the article, not the abstract.

-Make sure the wording is not too similar to the original reference, but also similar enough that it will appear to be accurate to a fact checker. 

-Use sources that are high up in the impact factor and reputable. Limit your use of promotional materials, such as paid review articles, CME programs, press releases, informational products behind a pay wall.

-Check data is complete (ie, don’t leave out a side effect by accident), and make sure your piece is fair balanced. Must include all agents within a class. Must include the positive and any negatives. 

-Make sure comparisons are appropriate (head-to-head trials are to compare but generally you cannot compare different trials).

-Make sure if you are referencing a conference presentation or poster that there isn’t in fact now a published paper on the study.

-Write slowly with complete accuracy because you may not catch it upon review.

-Reference and annotate as you go using the split screen function in word. Or if you are an Endnote power user, go for it. 

-Even healthcare professionals don’t want to wade through a hotchpotch of unrelated study descriptions. If reading your own manuscript makes your eyes glaze over, there’s a problem. Try to tell a story.  

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com, where you can access free content on medical writing. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing. The course is currently available and the next group will start May 29th, 2021.

May 13, 2021

In this episode, I cover tips for interacting with clients as a new freelance medical writer or any kind of freelancer for that matter. 

Get the skills and feedback to make sure there is a reasonable chance that you will do a good job. 

Really try to make new projects your best work. Expect to get a lower hourly rate for this first project. If you are writing in a specific genre, such as a needs assessment, review the client’s guidelines extra carefully and Google “how to write …..” and follow along with the generally accepted best practice. 

Don’t turn things in with spelling errors. 

Know that your client is not here to be “remedial.”

When you take on a new project, look at the files immediately.

It’s better to turn in something a day late than something that is not high quality.

Know that just because it is a “first draft,” it still should be in great shape. 

Most clients should be coming back to you for repeat business. If not, find out why not. It’s usually the quality of your work. Client is not obligated to tell you. 

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com, where you can access free content on medical writing. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing. The course is currently available and the next group will start May 29th, 2021.

May 6, 2021

In this episode, Dr. Sharon Morjig and I discuss the power of volunteering as a way not only to do some good in the world but to add impact to getting started in medical writing and jump starting a career in medical writing. Visit Sharon’s website at smmedicalwriting.com.  I also mention the following websites that may help you get started with volunteer medical writing:
http://medangel.org/
https://www.catchafire.org/
https://taprootfoundation.org/
https://www.volunteermatch.org/

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com, where you can access free content on medical writing

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing. The next group will start May 29th, 2021.

Apr 29, 2021

Dr. Kalpana Shankar sought flexibility in her schedule to raise her children, and after researching her options and considering her innate talents, she turned to freelance medical writing to achieve that. We talk about the types of work she does and how she has found some clients by revamping her LinkedIn profile. For more information and to hire Dr. Shankar please visit her website at 3cmedicalwriting.com.  

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com, where you can access free content on medical writing. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing. The course is currently available and the next group will start May 29th, 2021.

Apr 22, 2021

In my conversation with Dr. Cheryl McCutchan, we talk about her pathway from her PhD studies in botany and biochemistry, to becoming a scientific illustrator for academia and education, to now delving into a career in medical writing (which also includes the use of her visual medical communications skills).

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com, where you can access free content on medical writing
 
Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing. The course is currently available and the next group will start May 29th, 2021.

Apr 15, 2021

In this week’s podcast episode, I chat with Dr. Sheila Patterson, who has a PhD in molecular biology. After entering into the field of medical writing, she discovered that she prefers factchecking to medical writing (although she still does some of the latter). We talked about what types of skills factcheckers need. These include the ability to understand the content being reviewed, editing skills, as well as the possession of a certain level of empathy when inserting her comments. We talk about the pay rate, how to get work, and how to price projects. We also talk about the monstrous 49” curved monitor she uses.

https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-C49J890DKN-49-3840x1080-32/dp/B07CS4KF7J

Sheila Patterson’s LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheila-patterson-phd-b1a6629a/

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com. The new version is launching soon, so sign up now to get a discounted rate. You'll get immediate access to the current course at a lower price than the new version. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing and visualmedcomms.com if you would like to sign up to my upcoming medical visual communications courses.

Apr 8, 2021

In this week’s podcast episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Crystal Austin, who has a PhD in Microbiology but is also transitioning into medical writing. When she heard about medical writing from a coworker in her lab, at first she thought it was too good to be true that you could do something working from home with a science degree. Then, during a post-doc she discovered she enjoyed grant writing and got some funding with her efforts also. Although she is finishing up her current post-doc, Crystal is also doing subcontracting work for Nascent and other clients and plans to go full time as a medical writer in the future.

Check out my 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com. The new version is launching soon, so sign up now to get a discounted rate. You'll get immediate access to the current course at a lower price than the new version. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing and visualmedcomms.com if you would like to sign up to my upcoming medical visual communications courses.

Apr 1, 2021

Janna Afanasjeva, PharmD, BCPS realized early on that patient care was not for her and through a drug information residency she ended up on her current path of medical writing. Her website is https://www.aptewrite.com/.

She signed up for Dr. Hitt Nichols’ editing course and has just finished up the 6-Week Course (Everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business), and at the time of this recording was in her first couple of weeks as a full-time freelance medical writer.

Check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com. The new version is launching soon, so sign up now to get a discounted rate. You'll get immediate access to the current course at a lower price than the new version. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing and visualmedcomms.com if you would like to sign up to my upcoming medical visual communications course.

Mar 25, 2021

Dr. Louisa Marcombes a mid-career veterinarian from the UK and living in France transitions into medical writing. She describes her reasons for making the transition and what her plans are for the future.

 

Check out my 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com. The new version is launching soon, so sign up now to get a discounted rate. You'll get immediate access to the current course at a lower price than the new version. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing and visualmedcomms.com if you would like to sign up to my upcoming medical visual communications course.

 

Mar 17, 2021

In this episode, I talk to medical writer Morgan Leafe, MD, who has recently transitioned from clinical practice as a pediatrician. She talks about some of her first projects in medical writing, as well as her interest in medical informatics, which may be of interest to some of us medical writers as a parallel “non-clinical” career. We also talk about the power of volunteering as a way of getting started in medical writing (it’s one of the most effective things you can do to make connections!).

If you’re interested in medical writing, check out the 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business. There's free content there to get you started. A new version is launching soon, but if you sign up now, you’ll get access to that new version, but at the current, much discounted rate.  

If you might be interested in medical editing and learning all about the AMA Manual of Style, go to learnamastyle.com. That course "Become a Freelance Medical Editor" will launch on May 29th, 2021. There, you can sign up for free cheat sheets, such as a check list about setting up shop as a freelance medical editor and also a cheat sheet that has several different types of references in AMA style that you can cut and paste as you work. 

Mar 11, 2021

In this week's episode, I talk to 4 people who are living and working as medical writers in Africa--two in Gambia who live just blocks from each other (random!), one in Mozambique, and one in Kenya. It's a huge continent, but we have both coasts covered. I ask them about what it is like, and what they would want you to know here in the US.
---

Check out my 6-Week Course, everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business, at 6weekcourse.com. The new version is launching soon, so sign up now to get a discounted rate. You'll get immediate access to the current course at a lower price than the new version. 

Also go to learnamastyle.com if you're interested in medical editing. 

Dec 21, 2020

Download Dr. Emma Hitt Nichols’ article on MWSS here

Check out LearnAMAStyle.com for information on the course Become a Freelance Medical Editor. 

Check out 6weekcourse.com Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Freelance Medical Writing Business here.  

Music: Frozen Summer by Hypp fractal

Dec 10, 2020

Download the AMA Manual of Style checklist here

Checkout LearnAMAStyle.com for information on the course Become a Freelance Medical Editor. 

Music: Frozen Summer by Hypp fractal

Mar 15, 2019

In this episode, I’m talking with Anne Janzer, who has written a book Writing To Be Understood. Anne’s book dissects what it is that makes nonfiction compelling. She talks about using stories and analogies and several other strategies that translate also to writing about medical topics.

Anne Janzer is an award-winning author on a mission to help people communicate more effectively through writing. As a professional writer, she has worked with more than one hundred technology companies, writing in the voice of countless brands and corporate executives. She is author of four books, including Writing to be Understood: What Works and Why and The Workplace Writer's Process. Her books and online courses help writers improve their processes and communication skills, so they can share their thoughts and ideas with the world. Her latest book can be found here: https://annejanzer.com/book/writing-understood/

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Check out the PowerPoint course for scientists and medical writers and use PPTDISCOUNT for a discount.

Check out nascentmc.com for medical writing assistance and 6weekcourse.com for free info on getting into medical writing. 

Mar 1, 2019

What the American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style has to say about reference style and rules for capitalization. Warning: make sure you have had your coffee. It’s a lot of info crammed into a few minutes! Also a good idea to have your AMA manual loaded into your browser. 

Visit http://6weekcourse.com/ama-manual-of-style-tips/ for these tips in video format.

Check out the PowerPoint course for scientists and medical writers and use PPTDISCOUNT for a discount.

Check out nascentmc.com for medical writing assistance and 6weekcourse.com for free info on getting into medical writing. 

 

Feb 22, 2019

Lori Alexander is the American Medical Writer's Association (AMWA) Past President and their current Education Director. She discusses, among other things, AMWA's plans to expand their educational offerings, especially with respect to online educational activities. She talks about some of AMWA’s current offerings, such as online webinars, interactive activities, and fast interactive training “FIT”—a nugget of training delivered in 15 minutes.

Check out the PowerPoint course for scientists and medical writers and use PPTDISCOUNT

Check out nascentmc.com for medical writing assistance and 6weekcourse.com for free info on getting into medical writing. 

Feb 15, 2019

In this episode, I interview Dr. Will Pass who recently transitioned from being a veterinarian to being a full time medical writer. He talks about how being a vet helped him prepare to be a medical writer and some of the benefits of working as a freelance medical writer.  

Check out the PowerPoint course for scientists and medical writers and use PPTDISCOUNT

Check out nascentmc.com for medical writing assistance and 6weekcourse.com for free info on getting into medical writing. 

Feb 8, 2019

American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style P value pointers and overview of the AMA Manual of Style contents.

In this episode, I briefly describe what P values are; it’s a deep topic better left to statistical experts, but still, as medical writers, it’s important that we have a basic understanding. We also need to know how to format P values in the documents we write. I'll also, in this episode, give an overview of the contents of the manual, talking about how the different sections are organized and which ones are most useful to us as medical writers.

Visit nascentmc.com/blog for the written version of these tips.

Visit http://6weekcourse.com/ama-manual-of-style-tips/ for these tips in video format.

Check out the PowerPoint course for scientists and medical writers and use PPTDISCOUNT

Check out nascentmc.com for medical writing assistance and 6weekcourse.com for free info on getting into medical writing. 

Feb 1, 2019

Today I'm talking about PowerPoint. Some clients request this skill, either creating PowerPoint slide decks from scratch or reorganizing and reworking a previously created slide deck to make it more visually appealing.

Creating engaging scientific and medical PowerPoint presentations is a skill in addition to writing that can benefit medical writers and their clients, and it's quite lucrative! Definitely worth adding to your toolbox. Find out more and how to learn the skills you might need. 

Check out the PowerPoint course and use PPTDISCOUNT

Check out nascentmc.com for medical writing assistance and 6weekcourse.com for free info on getting into medical writing. 

Jan 25, 2019

In this episode I talk to HBA president & CEO Laurie Cooke. we talk about gender parity issues in the health care industry as well as what we can all do to improve the working environment for all participants. Laurie also describes the mission of the HBA and how medical writers specifically can benefit from the organization.

Please visit https://www.hbanet.org/ for more information.

Please visit 6weekcourse.com for more information on medical writing. Please visit nascentmc.com for assistance with medical writing. 

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