Defining ‘Medical Writer’ in a Job Description When the Role Defies Definition

Have you ever noticed in looking at job descriptions for medical writers that, regardless of the size of the hiring company, you end up with an array of interpretations of the role?

Here are some examples:
• MW may/may not write briefing books, write or review the label, or assist in regulatory responses
• MW may/may not be heavily focused on protocol writing, review of legacy data, and other clinical documentation, much like a clinical scientist might be
• Publication or abstract writing may/may not be included alongside regulatory writing

This arguably demands that medical writers have one of the most diverse skill sets of any function working in clinical research and demonstrates the broad value that medical writers bring to any organization. Trying to hire someone, however, who is a good communicator with excellent project management skills, who is technically skilled enough to understand how trials work to write protocols yet also understands the regulations to strategize and position for regulatory writing, and grasps requirements like ICMJE—well, that sounds like a tall order in general, doesn’t it.

When creating a job description for a medical writer, an organization should explore with stakeholders what immediate core tasks and aspirational future tasks such a role would contribute so that someone with an appropriately broad background can be hired. With that said, if the description is overly broad compared with the available pool of resources, the organization will have to either maintain some flexibility (including use of consultants to fill obvious gaps) or be willing to invest in some training.

For more information on creating job descriptions and head count for medical writers, reach out to us at

Jeanette Towles

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