How Physicians Can Add a Writer to Their Team — And Get it Right the First Time
As more physicians take the leap into thought leadership, they are seeing the value of hiring writers to help them rise to the top. Here’s how they can find the right fit for their needs.
If you choose to hire a writer, they’ll serve as an extension of your voice and are likely someone you’ll work with closely, so it’s key to find an expert collaborator you like, trust, and respect. Below, find six things to know as you start the search.
Figure out your needs.
A clear vision of what you’re hoping to accomplish will help you narrow down your options to the best fit. First, identify if you are looking for a writer who:
- Focuses on the science side of things and can assist with publishing studies
- Breaks down your ideas into patient-friendly pieces
- Can get you published in industry outlets or mainstream media
After identifying your goals, you’ll be in a better position to find a writer with the right mix of skills and experience to add rocket fuel to your plans.
Know where to look.
Ghostwriters can be hard to find, as a lot of the time their name isn’t associated with the work that they’ve done. While sites like Upwork or other talent marketplaces offer up a bevy of potential writers, it may be best to work off of referrals from trusted colleagues. The only catch? They may not be too quick to share the name of their ghostwriter.
Another way to search out talent is through professional networks like LinkedIn. Search for terms such as “medical writers”, “healthcare writers”, and “freelance ghostwriters”. Also, if you are ever interviewed by a writer as part of a medical conference or networking event, make sure to ask for their contact info and/or writer recommendations. You might discover that your potential writer is hiding in plain sight.
Do your research.
Gather as much information as possible about your potential hire. A little research can go a long way in helping you assess a writer’s skill set and what he or she brings to the table. Some questions to consider include:
- Does this writer have testimonials on LinkedIn or on their website?
- Is this writer connected to anyone you know?
- Does this writer seem familiar with your specialty or have a niche that would easily relate to your content?
An established writer should have at least some work in their own portfolio to share with you.
Look beyond credentials.
The world of medicine is a highly competitive and credentialed one. The writing world is a little different. While some writers have PhDs or other extensive education in a science-related field, others don’t. The best writers translate technical jargon into understandable and relatable terms—but this skill is not always linked to a certain certification. When hiring a writer, focus on experience and skill rather than education only.
Ask for a portfolio.
Assess a writer’s skills and writing style by reviewing past work. Keep in mind, however, that talented writers adapt their voice to fit the needs of their clients — what they write will be tailored to client needs and wants.
Reviewing past work can be tricky, however, because ghostwriters do a lot of work that they’ve agreed not to share with others. And they likely can’t share their client list either as part of non-disclosure agreements. Get around this by asking a prospective writer if he or she has any work under their own byline. If the answer is no, that’s a red flag. An established writer should have at least some work in their own portfolio to share with you.
A short video call often reveals more than a dozen emails might.
Search for the spark.
While skill and past experience are important, it’s just as important to find someone that you click with. The best way to find out if you get along with someone is to have a conversation — a short video call often reveals more than a dozen emails might.
If you reach out to a writer, they will most likely be happy to hop on a complimentary intro call. It’s in their best interests to find a good fit too, especially if your project may blossom into a long-term working relationship.
Lastly, keep in mind though that perfect fits aren’t found — they’re developed. Often, it takes a few articles to find the groove of working well together. You’ll surely get off to a better start, however, by using the above advice to help you identify a great match from the start. Now get out there and find your superstar writer!
Lauren McGill is a medical writer in Ontario, Canada. She writes about mental health, emergency medicine, and patient experiences. Find her work in Reader’s Digest, The Walrus, and international medical journals.