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Medical Writing Certificate

The demand for medical writing professionals is growing steadily in many industries. And, many biomedical and life sciences PhDs need and want careers outside of academia.

Given these two facts in combination with UC San Diego Extension’s relationships with and proximity to the biotech industry (the San Diego region has the world’s third largest biotech cluster with over 100,000 jobs and annual NIH funding exceeding $1 billion, per BIOCOM) the Medical Writing Certificate Program was born.

Under the guidance of an Advisory Board comprised of seasoned professionals, this program is designed to prepare biomedical or life sciences graduates to gain the baseline knowledge and skills needed to obtain a position as a medical writer writing in the commercial sector, government agencies and/or academia.

Scientific Medical Writing vs. Non-Scientific Medical Writing
The program is not designed for those intending to communicate scientific information to lay audiences, e.g., science journalism, marketing communications or patient communications. This program is designed to equip scientists and others with a strong biomedical and/or life sciences background to write for scientific audiences in peer-reviewed journals, regulatory documents, medical education materials and/or research grant proposals.

Target Audience
The program is designed for anybody aspiring to be medical writers and/or editors. Accepted applicants will:

  • likely have degrees in biomedical or life sciences, such as biology, chemistry, pharmacy, nursing, nutrition, or public health
  • often have advanced degrees, including PhD’s (candidates with PhDs are particularly competitive for medical writing positions in the commercial sector and academic settings)
Demand and Job Prospects
  • Medical writing offers a rewarding and intellectually stimulating career, with six-figure salaries for senior writers.
  • Many medical writers manage their own freelance businesses.
  • Few Biology PhDs on university campuses will secure a faculty position or campus laboratory; medical writing provides an alternative well-paying career.
  • According to the most recent American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) data, increases in medical writers’ salaries were more than double the rate of inflation and increased through certification.
  • Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Technical Writers in Healthcare is projected to grow nearly 27% from 2012 to 2022.
Program Cost and Duration
Students can finish the 22-unit program in 18 months. The overall cost is approximately $4,000+/- (cost will vary based on electives taken).

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Certificate Course Matrix
Course Title Course Number Units FA WI SP SU
Prerequisites (Must complete the following or equivalent within the past five years)
Medical Terminology
FPM-40172
1
O O O O
CT: Practical Clinical Statistics for the Non-Statistician
FPM-40233
2
O O O O
Required Courses (All 14 units required)
Introduction to Medical Writing & Editing
FPM-40605
3
  O   O
Medical Writing & Editing II
FPM-40606
3
O   O  
Advanced Medical Writing & Editing
FPM-40607
4
O   O  
Designing Figures, Tables, & Graphs
FPM-40608
2
  O   O
Ethics for Medical Writers
FPM-40609
2
  O   O
Electives (8 units required)
CT: Medical Writing: Protocols, Reports, Summaries, and Submissions
FPM-40188
2
O   O  
Good Documentation Practices
BIOL-40201
3
    O  
Overview of the Drug Development Process
BIOL-40015
3
O   O  
CT: Drug Development Process
FPM-40173
3
O O O O
CT: Understanding Oncology
FPM-40493
3
O O O O
CT: Regulation of Drugs, Biologics, Devices, and Diagnostics
FPM-40189
3
O O O O
Grant Proposal Preparation for Research Administration
BUSA-40710
2
Schedule Varies
CT: Science of Clinical Trials Design
FPM-40205
3
O O O O
L=La Jolla M=Mission Valley O=Online U=University City X=Location TBA
Certificate Programs

To Apply for the Certificate Program

From the 'Apply Now' button, login to your student account, complete the online application, and pay the application fee if applicable. It is preferable that you create an account before proceeding if you have not already done so.

Candidates are encouraged to apply in the certificate program as early as possible to take advantage of program benefits. See Certificate FAQs for more information.

Application Fee: $25 Apply Now!
Contact: Healthcare & Behavioral Sciences, 858-534-9268
Email: lkbruce@ucsd.edu
Please note: Upon acceptance into the program, there will be a $60 certificate fee.

Conditions for Admission

Successful applicants must have relevant educational background, and native-level fluency in English with the demonstrated ability to write clear, logical, and grammatically correct sentences as evidenced by the application, official transcripts and writing samples. Accepted applicants will have degrees in biomedical or life sciences, such as biology, chemistry, pharmacy, nursing, nutrition, or public health. It is anticipated that many will have advanced degrees, including PhDs. Candidates with PhDs are particularly competitive for medical writing positions in the commercial sector and academic settings.

Certificate Guidelines

All students must either take the following two courses or have taken appropriate equivalents within the past five years, earning a grade of B or better:

• Medical Terminology FPM-40172, 1 unit online
• Practical Clinical Statistics for the Non-Statistician FPM-40233, 2 units online
• Prerequisites can be waived for individuals whose work experience demonstrates foundational knowledge of these subjects. Applicants seeking this waiver must email their CV to lkbruce@ucsd.edu for determination in advance of their application.

Next Steps Experience

Connect your classroom education with real-world experiences through a Next Step Experience course. These specially designed classes allow students to gain hands-on experience by working closely with instructors and/or peers on real-world projects.

In the Advanced Medical Writing & Editing course, students apply all previously learned concepts to produce a capstone project. This will demonstrate an understanding of the publishing process, including ethics and fair use copyright, and the usefulness of “Instructions to Authors.” Students will learn how to use primary and secondary trial registries (such as “clinicaltrials.gov,” and others), and how to locate sources of guidelines for publishing various kinds of trials, such as CONSORT and the EQUATOR Network.

Advisors

Jennifer Arevalo, MA, FACHE
Executive Director, Marketing and Communications
Riverside University Health System

David C. Chang, PhD, MPH, MBA
Director of Outcomes Research
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University

Noelle Demas
Medical Writer
Panorama MedWriters Group, Inc.

Lynne Friedmann, APR, Fellow PRSA
Principal
Friedmann Communications

Diane Lattanzio, MPH
Freelance Medical Editor and Instructor of Medical Editing

Timothy Ken Mackey, MAS, PhD
Assistant Professor
UC San Diego School of Medicine

Ruth Patterson, PhD
Professor & Director of Cancer Prevention Program
UC San Diego School of Medicine, Moores Cancer Center

Gwen Rosenberg
Principal
Rosenberg Business Communications

Donna Simcoe, MS, MBA, CMPP
Principal
Simcoe Consultants

Georgia Theofan, PhD
Clinical Development Consultant & Medical Writer
Theofan Consulting

Robin Weaver
Freelance Medical Writer

Gabriele Weinhausen, PhD
Faculty Director, Teaching & Learning Commons
UC San Diego