What is medical education writing and could it be your area of focus?

People sometimes approach me because they’ve heard of medical writing and are curious about entering the field but aren’t exactly sure where to start.

If you can relate, this is the post for you.

With the medical writing field poised for considerable growth in the coming years, and more awareness being placed on the craft, it’s important to understand the distinction between different types of medical writing if you’re looking to enter this field.

MedWriter Bootcamp specializes in medical education writing (sometimes also known as MedEd, medcomms, or medical communications writing) and this post will give you an overview of this distinct type of medical writing. For ease, I’ll be referring to this as “MedEd” for the rest of this post.

MedEd basics

The purpose of medical education writing is to communicate new medical and scientific information to various audiences. These audiences are generally healthcare professionals but can also be patients and caregivers. One major purpose of MedEd writing is to facilitate the transfer of discoveries and innovations from the research, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries into the medical and clinical fields.

A core goal of medical education writing is to make complex medical topics understandable to various audiences. By breaking down advanced concepts and using clear language, MedEd writers help healthcare professionals stay updated on necessary information and help patients and caregivers to make informed decisions about their health.

Example MedEd formats

MedEd writing projects can take on various formats, and are each suited to their individual target audiences. As someone trying to enter the field, it can be challenging to understand exactly what these projects look like because they’re often not publicly available and used in very specific scenarios such as gated websites, internal training, or private conferences.

The list below is meant to offer a glimpse into some of these projects. Though there are too many format types to list here, below are some examples of the project types you might find yourself working on as a medical education writer.

CME programs

      • Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs are designed to provide healthcare professionals with updated knowledge and skills relevant to their practice. These programs often include interactive lectures, case studies, and assessments, often allowing participants to earn credits while staying abreast of advancements in their field. 

      • Example: A CME course educating physicians on the basics of pacemakers and how to identify and address the most common problems with pacemakers faced by patients.

    eLearning modules

        • eLearning modules offer flexible and accessible learning experiences through digital platforms. These modules typically feature multimedia content, interactive elements, and self-assessment tools, catering to diverse learning styles and enabling learners to progress at their own pace. 

        • Example: A 10-part series of eLearning modules focus on how physicians can understand and integrate informed decision making into their practice. These modules feature case-based scenarios to help physicians put theory into practice.

      KOL slide decks

        • Key opinion leader (KOL) slide decks are presentations created by medical experts or thought leaders in a particular field of medicine. These slide decks serve as a platform for KOLs to share their expertise, insights, research findings, and recommendations with other healthcare professionals, industry stakeholders, and sometimes patients. A medical education writer plays a crucial role in developing KOL slide decks by collaborating with experts to distill complex medical information into clear, concise, and engaging presentations. 
        • Example: An esteemed leader in multiple sclerosis presents a slide deck about recent innovations in diagnosis and treatment strategies at an international symposium. 

      Disease awareness campaigns

          • Disease awareness campaigns aim to educate the public and healthcare professionals about specific medical conditions, their symptoms, prevention strategies, and available treatments. These campaigns can sometimes use various media channels, including social media, print materials, and community events to raise awareness and promote early detection and intervention.

          • Example: A campaign designed to educate both physicians and the general public about the rise of colon cancer in young adults. This campaign features websites, social media posts, animations, and physical posters to help encourage people to know the signs of colon cancer and get screened. 


            • Animated videos are effective tools for explaining complex medical concepts in a visually engaging manner. With MedEd animations, the “characters” of the animated story can be patients and physicians, but they can also be things like cells, bacteria, or drug molecules. These animations can illustrate disease and treatment processes in the body. 

            • Example: An MOA (mechanism of action) video takes the viewer on an anatomy journey at the cellular level and describes in detail how a specific drug molecule works to combat disease within the body.

          Disease progression visualizers

              • Disease progression visualizers are powerful tools often housed on websites or within apps that are used in medical education to illustrate the trajectory of various medical conditions over time. By using dynamic graphs, charts, and animations, these visualizers offer a clear and comprehensive understanding of how diseases evolve, including stages, symptoms, and potential complications.

              • Example: An interactive dashboard about Alzheimer’s disease can be manipulated by the user. As the user progresses through time, they are able to see the cognitive and functional impact on patients with Alzheimer’s disease, simulating disease progression over time.

            VR experiences

                • Virtual reality (VR) experiences immerse learners in simulated environments, offering hands-on training and experiential learning opportunities. From surgical simulations to patient consultations, VR technology enhances engagement and skill acquisition by providing a realistic and interactive learning environment.

                • Example: An VR experience simulates what life is like with macular degeneration through a first-person view. As the user dons the headset, they will be guided through a series of visual scenes and discover how this eye disease impacts a person’s visual functioning.

              Educational games

                  • Educational games also known as serious games, gamify the learning process, transforming medical education into fun and engaging experiences. These games can include quizzes, puzzles, and role-playing scenarios, fostering competition, collaboration, and critical thinking skills among players while reinforcing medical knowledge and concepts.

                  • Example: Physicians are trained on the use of a new surgical implement through a surgical scenario-based game. The game uses a simulation to allow physicians to explore the use of this tool in practice. The game also features quizzes to monitor learning progress.

                What makes MedEd writing distinct?

                As you explore medical writing as a profession, you’ll soon realize that there are many different types of medical writing, and they each require distinct skills and focus. Below are three important distinctions of medical education writing.

                Clarity and audience focus

                MedEd writing often aims to facilitate learning, comprehension, and retention of medical knowledge, with a strong emphasis on learner engagement and understanding. This is why there is often a focus on writing with clarity and simplicity in this profession. 

                With MedEd writing, learners (usually healthcare professionals) often come from various backgrounds with different levels of expertise, so writing with simplicity and clarity helps to keep the content as inclusive and understandable as possible. 

                A practical approach

                One of the key aspects of medical education writing is its focus on immediate practicality. Beyond just relaying facts, medical education writing connects the dots between medical research and real-world applications. It acts as a bridge between the latest findings and how they impact patient care. 

                For example, as a MedEd writer you might work on a piece about the safety and efficacy of a new drug through the creation of various fictional patient profiles that physicians can access through an online app. These patient profiles might describe appropriate candidates for this new therapy, dosing guidelines, important comorbidity information, and other information that reinforces how this drug might fit into a physician’s everyday practice. 

                Instructional design principles

                MedEd writers think of their audience as learners. This is a key distinction from other types of medical writing that often concentrates on the documentation and relaying of facts rather than the reader’s reception of those facts. 

                MedEd writing often follows principles of adult learning theory, also known as instructional design or curriculum design. These principles guide the creation of content in a learner-centric way, and emphasize principles such as breaking content into digestible pieces, frequent information recaps, simplified language, and knowledge checks or self assessments. 

                Is MedEd writing right for you?

                Does MedEd writing resonate with you? If so, you might be interested in exploring MedWriter Career Launch, the course I created to help aspiring medical writers land their first roles quickly. Intakes happen periodically throughout the year, but you can always sign up to be on the waitlist if the course is currently closed for intake.

                Lindsay Ulrich

                Lindsay Ulrich

                Lindsay is the creator and educator behind MedWriter Bootcamp and is passionate about helping aspiring medical writers find work they love.

                Content transparency: Some of the content on this blog post has been generated with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. While these tools have aided in drafting certain portions of the content, the overall planning, prompting, editing, and finalization of each post have been guided by the author to ensure accuracy, relevance, and alignment with their expertise and personal experience.

                Share the Post:

                Related Posts