6 Week Course Modules Only (no feedback)
The 6-week course covers everything you need to know to start your freelance medical writing business. The curriculum is as follows:
Week 1—Prerequisite Skills and First Steps
- Mistakes Medical Writers Should Avoid
- Medical Writing Style
- A Checklist for Pieces You Really Care About
- Preview of the AMA online Manual of Style
- Potential Medical Writing Markets
- How to Get Your First Freelance Medical Writing Clients
Week 2—Setting Up Shop
- Rules of Website Design for the Freelance Medical Writer
- Useful Software and Equipment for Medical Writers
- Checklist of Questions to Ask Clients When Taking on a New Project
- When to (And When Not to) Network and Help Others 101
- Freelance Integrity–Meeting Deadlines, Plagiarism, and Other Issues
- Part-time Clinician/Part-time Writer
- Getting into Regulatory Medical Writing
Week 3—Writing the Medical News
- Scope of Medical News Writing
- Interview With the Director of Medscape’s Medical News
- How to Write the Medical News
- Review of a couple of news pieces
- Interviewing Tips and Techniques for News Writers
- How to Get Medical News Writing Work
- Covering Medical Conferences
Week 4—Writing Continuing Medical Education (CME)
- Understanding Fair Balance
- Getting the "Ghoul" out of "Ghostwriting”
- Writing Needs Assessments
- Needs Assessment Checklist
- Needs Assessment Examples
Week 5—Feature Article Writing
- Scope of Feature Article Writing
- How to Get Feature Article Writing Work
- How to Write Feature Articles
- Interviewing Tips and Techniques When Writing Feature Articles
- Emma goes over a couple of feature articles that she recently wrote
Week 6—Running Your Freelance Medical Writing Business
- Positioning Yourself
- New Business Trends
- Negotiating and Collecting Your Pay
- Contracts 101 for Freelance Medical Writers
- Invoicing Your Clients
- Organizational Tips for Freelance Medical Writers
- A Few Apps to Improve Productivity
- When to Break Up With a Client
- Freelance Customer Service
- Several examples of different types of medical writing, including features articles, needs assessments, and news articles
- Contract and NDA examples
Who should take the course?
The materials are directed towards people with a PhD, an MD, a PharmD or other advanced degree in a science. The course also assumes that participants have good-to-excellent writing skills and English fluency. People often ask "can I take this course if I only have an undergraduate degree in a science, a master's degree, or an RN, [or insert whatever degree you want here] etc, etc."
There is no advanced degree prerequisite for taking the course or for being a medical writer. However, people with writing skill and an advanced science degree are more likely to succeed at a career in freelance medical writing, so there's probably not much point in taking this course if you don't have these attributes. According to the American Medical Writers Association, about one third of medical writers do have an advanced degree in a science.
Do I get one-on-one coaching with the course?
Due to the number of people wanting to go through the course, it is not possible for Dr. Nichols to individually coach participants. However, the 6-week course includes access to a closed Facebook group where participants can interact with people who have gone through the 6-week course and now work as freelance medical writers. Dr. Nichols also regularly responds to posts and conducts FB live sessions.
Do I get written feedback on my work?
The feedback modules (distinct from the above "6-week course modules") include opportunities for feedback on the following writing types: medical proofreading and editing, annotations and references, news writing, PowerPoint, needs assessments, and manuscript writing. You can take the 6-week course modules with or without these feedback modules. See learn.6weekcourse.com for more information.
What is the course like?
The 6-week online course modules are separated out into 6 "weekly" sections, but you will have immediate lifetime access, so you can go as quickly or as slowly as you want. The course is completely flexible time wise, but in order to get the most out of the course, you will probably want to dedicate at least 10-15 hours a week to reading, learning, and working on projects over a couple of months. There are no obligatory online meeting times or schedules. That said, if you are in the very last stretch of finishing up your PhD, or you have a demanding full-time job, or you have major family demands, you might want to postpone taking the course until you have more time available.
How often is the course offered?
It's now available anytime.
How do I get work with your company after I have gone through the course?
Once you have completed the course and have passed all 6 feedback modules, you may have the opportunity to subcontract for Nascent Medical. Many people who have been through the 6-week course now subcontract for us and make substantial money. Our standards are really high, so to subcontract for Nascent Medical, we require that you have an advanced degree in a science AND fluent English in addition to passing the 6 feedback modules. We reserve the right not to include you on our list of subcontractors for any reason. No worries though, the course will prepare you to seek out whatever clients you want even if you don't end up subcontracting for us.
How are the feedback modules graded?
The feedback modules (in medical proofreading and editing, annotations and references, news writing, PowerPoint, needs assessments, and manuscript writing) are graded by a few highly trusted writers on our team. They are pass/fail, with the criteria used for passing being "would a client be satisfied if they received this work." If the work is riddled with spelling errors, demonstrates a lack of English fluency, and is generally not accurate or carefully done, then that would be a fail. Regardless of if you pass or fail, you will receive detailed feedback on your work and can use these as samples to show prospective clients. You'll have one opportunity to retake each test free of charge but can retake the feedback modules as many times as needed by signing up again.
Why should I take your premium 6-week course rather than the AMWA certificate?
This is a copy of my response to someone’s email asking this very good question. I myself have earned the AMWA writing and freelance educational certificate, as well as the BELS certificate.
First, I would say it’s valuable to earn the AMWA certificate because it shows to other members of the profession that you are dedicated to expanding your knowledge of the field. However, when you are done adding up the costs of taking courses, traveling, time lost from work, and paying to attend the AMWA conference–which you have to attend because not all required courses are online as of this writing, earning the AMWA certificate actually costs much more than the 6-week course. I would also say that the information that I learned while attaining the AMWA certificate could have been gleaned from reading and studying a few select books on the topics covered in the courses, for a cost of less than $200 in the price of the books. While some homework is required for the AMWA certificate courses, no mentoring or detailed feedback on samples is given. Finally, I do not believe that I have ever been given any freelance work due to the fact that I have the AMWA certificate listed on my resume. A much more useful certification is the BELS certificate. This actually requires passing a rigorous editing test and requires experience in the field, and many employers and potential clients in the field know that. Also, for about $5000, you can get a medical writing certificate from the University of Chicago — completely online. I think that looks prestigious on a resume. The 6-week course does NOT teach advanced writing skills (which can be learned elsewhere). What my course does provide is some insight into medical writing mechanics, the scope of medical writing, and information about starting a freelance medical writing business. Participants are encouraged to take on additional clients, but several 6-week “graduates” have received ongoing work from Nascent Medical after the course is over, and they have gone on to earn thousands of dollars through my company. So, the best thing about the 6-week course is that it is more of an internship than a course for most people. I would say that these attributes, namely, feedback on writing and potential for real word experience, sets the 6-week course apart from any of the above mentioned programs and certificates.
What if I just want you to answer a few questions without me having to sign up for the course?
Please consider joining AMWA.org. They have a platform called AMWA Engage, where people currently working as medical writers will answer any questions you may have.
Should I take this course if I want to be a staff medical writer rather than a freelancer?
The 6-week course is directed towards highly qualified individuals who want to start their own freelance medical writing business. Materials are written from that perspective. You are welcome to take the course if you want to work as a staff medical writer, but some of the materials might not be relevant.
Should I take this course if I am already a working freelance medical writer?
If you have been working as a freelance medical writer for more than a few months, this course may not be for you. The course is specifically geared towards people who are starting up their freelance business.
Why do you not teach regulatory writing?
Dr. Nichols does not specialize in regulatory writing. The course does provide info on how to find out more about regulatory writing, but that is the extent of the coverage of regulatory writing in the current 6-week course. Please visit the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society site for more info on regulatory writing.
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Dr. Hitt Nichols is a long-time medical writer. Her mission is to help people with a scientific or medical background and writing ability to create a life they love working remotely in the lucrative field of medical communications, just like she did after finishing her PhD 20 years ago. To date, Emma has helped hundreds of people set up their own freelance medical writing and/or editing businesses. She is also founder of Nascent Medical, LLC, a company that delivers high-quality medical writing and editing services to the healthcare industry. Although there's no guarantee, she likes nothing better than to give the talented graduates of her writing and editing courses their first medical writing projects to help them get started.
Emma has a doctoral degree from the Nutrition and Health Sciences Program at Emory University and an MS in professional communication.
- Read her book on freelance medical writing.
- Listen to the Medical Writers Speak podcast.
- Sign up to the HittList, a free weekly email listing staff and freelance medical writing jobs.