How to Become a Freelance Medical Editor

Medical editing can be a great option for freelancers looking to find a niche to specialize in. And while you don’t need a background in science or medicine to become a medical editor, you’ll need to develop several skills and abilities.

In this post, we’ll provide an overview of medical editing and the things you need to know to pursue this specialization in your own freelance career.

What Is Medical Editing?

Medical editors work with texts related to the medical field, such as journal articles, books, white papers, and scientific studies. They perform many of the same tasks general editors do – everything from correcting grammar and punctuation to checking for consistency and maintaining the proper tone and voice.

Medical editors also ensure that the spelling and usage of specific medical terms and technical language are correct and that the text is clear and free of awkward phrasing. Additionally, you’d be expected to respect confidentiality guidelines, and you may need to adhere to relevant standards for regulatory compliance.

Types of Medical Editing

As a medical editor, you can choose to focus on a specific sector in the medical field. Several niches exist within general medical editing, such as:

  • Grant proposals
  • Medical communications
  • Patient education (e.g., blogs and guides)
  • Medical sales materials
  • Peer-reviewed medical journals
  • Regulatory documents
  • Scientific studies

The type of work you do will depend on what you specialize in. Each focus requires its own knowledge of terminology and industry standards and practices.

You’ll also need to follow relevant style guidelines closely and ensure that the text is suitable to the target audience. For example, a brochure directed at patients in a hospital will have a style and tone of voice different from those of a presentation to hospital executives.

No matter what type of document you’re working on, you’ll need to ensure that it’s clear, accurate, and appropriately structured.

How to Become a Medical Editor

To work as a medical editor, you’ll need to do the following.

1. Develop the Relevant Skill Set

To become a medical editor, you need proofreading skills, such as an eye for detail and knowledge of grammar and punctuation rules. You’ll also need to build a solid foundation of general editing skills, including research, critical thinking, and project management.

And while you don’t need a medical degree to become a medical editor, you do need some background knowledge of the sector you’re working in so that you can identify technical terms and acronyms, understand statistics, and verify certain factual information.

2. Continue Your Professional Development

If you’d like to gain qualifications in addition to general proofreading and editing knowledge, you can continue your professional development by enrolling in a program and working toward a certificate in medical editing.

You can find both in-person classes and self-paced virtual programs – what you choose will depend on what fits into your schedule. You can also attend conferences and workshops to network and develop your skills.

3. Gain Experience in the Industry

You can gain experience as a beginner medical editor in several ways. One is by volunteering your services to a nonprofit or offering to edit medical blogs for a local doctor’s office. These networking connections will likely come in handy when you’re ready to start looking for paid work.

You can also familiarize yourself with the structure, style, and tone of medical publications, such as online journals, and the rules of the AMA style guide, a common referencing system for medical publications.

How to Find Medical Editing Jobs

To find medical editing jobs, you can:

It’s also beneficial to build connections with other professionals and network by attending virtual or in-person events, such as those of the Council of Science Editors or the European Association of Science Editors.

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