Medical writing courses are most often available within bachelor's and master's degree programs for technical writing, science writing, medical writing and professional communication. There are a few certificate programs available in medical writing, but they require an undergraduate degree for admission. Undergraduate programs in technical communication or writing may offer medical courses, while specialized medical writing degree programs are common at the master's level.
Common courses found in these writing programs include those in scientific writing, legal and ethical issues, regulatory writing and documentation, medical vocabulary and writing techniques. Students gain an understanding of medical terminology and learn about the formatting, style and tone needed for technical documents. Master's degree programs often offer a choice between thesis and non-thesis tracks.
Common topics in these courses are:
- Medical terminology
- How to access medical databases
- Writing for popular media
Overview of Courses
Medical Vocabulary Class Descriptions
This medical writing course provides an introduction to medical language, including dentistry, nursing and other standard medical terms. Emphasis is on word structure - prefixes, roots and suffixes - pertaining to human anatomy and body systems, medications and medical procedures.This knowledge allows students to write accurate technical pieces that use correct terminology and can be shared with the medical community. Technical medical writing is often used in medical journals and clinical case studies. A medical vocabulary course may be taken at the beginning of a medical writing program.
Medical and Scientific Writing Course
In this course, students analyze journals and studies that use medical writing. The basics of formatting, including organization, editing and technical descriptions are also covered in this course. Additional topics include preparing to write the piece and ways to research and structure the piece so it is well-organized and credible. A technical writing course may follow a general composition course.
Regulatory Writing and Documentation Course
In this medical writing course, students learn how to write clinical study reports, new drug applications and more. Students learn how to create specific types of documents that use medical writing and proper formatting and how to use technical medical language in them. As a specialized course, a regulatory writing and documentation course will probably follow a general medical writing class.
Writing Techniques Course
Students learn about grammar, formatting and other stylistic issues in this medical writing course. By analyzing professional medical texts and completing applied practice, students learn how to write unique, readable and scientifically sound medical essays and articles. Topics include using word choice, details and stylistic techniques that create the tone common in medical papers.
Legal and Ethical Issues in Medical Communication Course
Hundreds, or even thousands, of medical doctors may read a piece of medical information. A legal and ethical issues class teaches students how to cite information correctly and the importance of going through the peer review process. Peer reviews can help medical writers ensure that information is presented accurately. Students learn how to write medical essays without invading patients' privacy or stepping over medical boundaries.