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Is health and science writing for you?
Friday, March 30, 2012 (All day)

You could say that no fields have changed our lives more than health and science. Every day, there are numerous reports about breakthroughs and discoveries that affect the world at large and our personal well-being.

There will always be an interest for content about how things work and how new discoveries affect us, so there are many markets and opportunities for freelance writers. Nearly every publication or media outlet has a health or science section, whether it’s Elle magazine, Reuters or The Wall Street Journal. Technology and health-care companies need marketing communications and copywriting. For those who wish to dive deeper into technical writing, there are research and regulatory markets.

Find out if health or science writing is right for you:

1. Are you fascinated with how things work and have a burning desire to know more, just because you’re curious?

2. Do you have a science degree? That will certainly help, but it’s not mandatory. None of the three multi-award winning speakers at PWAC Toronto Chapter’s upcoming health and science writing seminar have science degrees, but they all have a clear passion for their subject areas, and an expert ability to handle the technical aspects of health and science journalism. Check out this Discover Magazine blog post, Not Exactly Rocket Science, by award-winning British science writer Ed Yong to learn about the diverse paths that top science writers have traveled to become experts in their fields.

3. Are you good at explaining complicated things to others? Can you review technical content, such as clinical studies or journal papers, then distill the key points and make them understandable to the reader?

4. Would you enjoy interviewing researchers and scientists about their work or their discoveries? I consider myself fortunate to have interviewed dozens of doctors, researchers and scientists over the last year on a wide range of topics, from genome sequencing and dental devices to cancer screening, global disease treatments and new drug approvals. To me, it’s all brain candy.

5. Do you have a good crap detector? A solid grounding in statistics will keep you from falling prey to ‘cyberchondria’, the notorious affliction that can strike if you believe sensational headlines, questionable research methods or faulty conclusions. In our digitally connected world, information spreads like wildfire, and you must apply your own intelligence filter to determine whether conclusions drawn from a particular study are truly conclusive or just eyeball bait. Health benefits of red wine, anyone?

If you answered ‘yes’ to some of these questions, then consider giving health and science writing a try!

Here are some resources to check into for further professional development:

Getting Started in Health & Science Writing, an evening seminar on April 18, 2012 presented by PWAC Toronto Chapter. Three multi-award winning writers will share how they got started and their tips for success.

Canadian Science Writers’ Association – a national alliance of professional science communicators, fostering quality science communication.

Association of Health Care Journalists – a U.S. organization advocating for quality, accuracy and visibility of health-care reporting.

American Medical Writers Association – offers distance learning and a continuing education program for medical writers.

Jane Langille is a Toronto-area freelance writer who writes about health, wellness and medical innovations for print and online publications and health-care companies. She is a contributing author for GE Healthy Outlook and volunteers as VP Communications for PWAC Toronto Chapter.








- Jane Langille


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